Planning the Perfect Honeymoon
Mar 19, 2012 08:49PM ● Published by Anonymous
However, choosing a location and coordinating all the aspects of your trip can be overwhelming, but once you’re gazing out at the sea from a villa in Italy or stretched out on the soft, white sand somewhere in the tropics surrounded by palm trees, you’ll realize that your honeymoon was worth the legwork.
Lindsay and Eric Ratcliffe honeymoon in St. Lucia.
Where to Go
During the past year,Annapolis travel agents saw an increase in popularity of St. Lucian, Antiguan, and Italian honeymoons. Newlyweds are leaning toward warm or tropical locations, no matter what time of the year it is. Younger couples are more well traveled these days than in the past, leading to more demand for exotic locations. Travel agents noted that many couples have already been to a lot of the more popular destinations, such as Jamaica and Hawaii, and now they want something more exotic.
Many couples dream of the over-the-water huts for their honeymoon—but where can you actually find them? You can book them on the islands of French Polynesia, which includes Moorea, Bora Bora, andTahiti, all of which are honeymoon favorites for people willing to make a lengthy airplane trip.
However, the Caribbean seems to be one of those locations that will be forever popular, probably because of its long stretches of pristine beaches and secluded areas that make a perfect romantic escape. Antigua has become quite the celebrity attraction, and has continued to grow popular with its 365 beaches and close proximity to the “little sister island” of Barbuda.
It’s no surprise that St. Lucia is another honeymoon hotspot; the miles of beaches and rainforest, the waterfalls, and the ample opportunity for adventure on this island make it an obvious destination for a romantic getaway. The island features one of the world’s only “drive-in volcanoes,” which doesn’t actually mean you can drive into the volcano; however, it does mean you can get closer to the caldera than any other place imaginable.
Other lesser-known Caribbean honeymoon locales include Anguilla, which is great for foodies, not so much for shopaholics; Curacao, an off the coast of Venezuela with a rich culture; and Domenica, which is 60 percent covered in rain forests and is at the forefront of eco-tourism.
Hannah Prince, who was married in Mitchellville in 2008, visited St. Lucia with her husband, Greg, for their honeymoon. The Princes chose the island because it was a location neither of them had visited before. “I think St. Lucia offers all the benefits of the Caribbean but is a little off the beaten path—maybe not for long,” she says. “It seems a bit more exotic than Jamaica or the Bahamas because it is so small and farther south.” Additionally, there are a lot of all-inclusive resort options on the island, and it seems that a lot of honeymooners prefer that kind of stress-free environment.
Europe, especially the Mediterranean region, is another destination that has gained popularity this year among couples. Italy, in particular, has been a common location for Maryland newlyweds. Whether it’s taking a drive through the hills of Tuscany, enjoying a gondola ride down a canal in Venice, or absorbing the history and stunning art monuments in Rome, it’s hard to beat the romance and mystique of traveling in Italy. Instead of traveling to a major city, consider vacationing in the Lake District on the border of Italy and Switzerland. This majestic area features breathtaking views of water and mountains, as well as a mild climate year-round.
Lauren Brown, a recent Annapolis bride (See her Naval Academy wedding on page XX), and her husband, Clinton, chose to go on a cruise through the Mediterranean for their honeymoon. The cruise stopped in Monaco, Italy, France, and Spain. “The cruise was definitely a great way to see a bunch of different locations without having to pack up all of your suitcases and trudge to another hotel,” Brown says. “I think it was the easiest way to experience Europe for the first time.”
If you’re thinking about cruising, but the Mediterranean is a bit too far, you can depart out of the port of Baltimore. Ships cruise to Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and New England, and it’s awfully convenient that you don’t have to fly to reach your ship. Other conveniently located ports include Norfolk, Virginia, and New York City.
Finally, since the royal couple’s secluded honeymoon location was revealed to be the island country of Seychelles, just east of Africa in the Indian Ocean, the area has become an increasingly popular destination for couples all over. Kate and William were jetted off to a secluded part of the country (one of the 115 islands in the archipelago) to enjoy the beaches and crystal-blue water of the Indian Ocean for a very private honeymoon. If you’re looking for a quiet, off-the-map trip, you might want to follow in their footsteps.
Dayne and Eddie Dolch explore the Amalfi Coast.
All-Inclusive Versus A La Carte
After you’ve chosen a location, there’s something else to consider: All-inclusive or a la carte pricing.
Although some all-inclusive packages can start at a higher price, you will find that all costs are covered, including accommodations, food, drinks, and in some cases, activities such as water sports, from the beginning until the end of your vacation. This can make for a more relaxing and enjoyable honeymoon. However, some people would rather experience a country piece by piece, selecting authentic restaurants and off-the-beaten-path tours that aren’t offered through an all-inclusive resort.
Prince and her husband choose an all-inclusive resort for their St. Lucia getaway. “It makes sense financially,” she says. “Not only because you can eat and drink and do water sports all you want, but also because it makes it so much easier to budget and to predict the cost of the trip.”
Make the choice based on whether it’s more important to you that your factor is relaxing without any financial hassles or if you would rather have an authentic experience without being limited.
Kristin Bazinet and Steve Cooper relax on their Antigua honeymoon.
Using a Travel Agent
The Internet makes planning your own vacations easy, but there’s still a time and place to use a travel agent—and your honeymoon might be one of them. If you’re unsure of what region you would like to travel to or which resort is the best choice, a travel agent can point you in the right direction. If something goes wrong on your vacation—say, you get bumped from your flight—your travel agent can help you out, so you don’t have to stress about it.
There’s one situation where a travel agent is necessary. If you’re traveling to a location that’s off the beaten path where locals—even those in the tourism industry—are unlikely to speak decent English, use your travel agent to arrange tours with guides that speak the same language as you.
And if you’re concerned about adding an expense to your trip, don’t worry. Travel agents are paid by the cruise lines or resorts that you choose, not by the happy newlyweds. Plus, you never know—you might find yourself the recipient of an upgrade on your flight or hotel as an extra little perk of using a travel agent.
Passports, Name Changes, and Other Details
Your Passport: Getting your passport far enough in advance (six to eight weeks) is a travel factor that should not be neglected. If you’re a first-time applicant, you must apply in person. Visit Travel.state.gov, the website for the U.S. Department of State, for specific guidelines about passports (there are different directions to follow for specific situations). If you’re leaving in less than two weeks for an international trip and still need a passport, you can go to one of 24 regional passport agencies in the U.S. to get your passport. Otherwise, you will submit an application at a local Passport Application Acceptance Facility. If you realize that you’re running out of time before your trip, it is possible to have your passport expedited, though there will be an extra charge for that service.
Changing Your Name: Your passport and airline ticket must have the same name on them to travel. Therefore, obtain your passport and book your honeymoon tickets under your maiden name. After you return home, you can apply for a name change on your passport for no fee (you can do so up to one year after the passport has been issued.)
Health & Safety: Researching the location of your honeymoon will be very beneficial before you leave, especially when it comes to your health. Each country usually requires different vaccines upon entrance, so have your immunizations updated based on your destination four to six weeks before the trip. Check the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to see how to prepare for your particular destination by researching the country of your choice. Also be conscious of the safety factor—travelers are sometimes taken advantage of in foreign countries, so thoroughly researching your destination before departure is smart.
Thanks to Time for Travel/Funjet Vacations and Travel Bug, LLC, for region-specific travel information.