5 Booking Hacks That Will Change the Way You Buy a Cruise

Seasoned cruisers know that booking the ultimate cruise deal is a tricky formula of aiming for the right destination at the right time of year; booking at the exact moment when good prices and excellent availability align; jumping on promotions; scoring perks like onboard credits; remaining vigilant for price drops; and sometimes, a dash of pure luck.

Simply browsing the web might not be enough to secure the ultimate deal. Heed our advice using these five cruise booking hacks and you might be able to find secret pricing, score double the bonuses and land the upgrade of a lifetime.

1. Book onboard; then switch to an agent.

Booking a cruise while you’re on vacation might seem impulsive, but it’s actually a great way to gather extra bonuses and discounts. When you book a cruise onboard, you not only earn onboard credit to use on that future sailing and often pay a reduced deposit, but you can transfer that booking to your preferred travel agent once you disembark. A travel agent can offer you even more perks on top of what you negotiated on the ship (more onboard credit, bottles of wine), and many times you can even adjust dates and ships without a penalty, if your plans change. It’s really a win-win situation if you know you want to cruise the same line again soon.


Man talking on the phone close up shot

2. Call for hidden pricing.

When online agents tell you to call for pricing, it’s not a gimmick or another way of saying a ship is sold out. Through direct connections with cruise lines and marketing partners, agents and cruise specialists receive deals called “quiet offers” that they’re not allowed to publish. What that means for the consumer is that there might be even lower rates available than the listed bargain. In order to get in on the savings, you have to call to discuss your options. Agents are also privy to sales before they go public, and know about any additional savings you might be eligible for, such as a military or AARP discount. Picking up the phone might seem a bit archaic these days, but if you want to book a cruise at the lowest rate, it’s almost essential.


3. Refer a friend (or get referred).

Referral programs exist for gyms, hair salons and apartment complexes, so why not cruises? Some companies, like online travel marketplace CruCon, offer onboard credit in exchange for a new referral to their agency. Likewise, select cruise lines offer onboard credit to you and your friends when they are referred. If you’ve never been on a cruise but have friends who have, ask them if their cruise line or agency offers a referral program and chances are, you’ll all reap the benefits. Not sure if your cruise line offers a referral program — or don’t know anyone who can refer you? The Cruise Critic message boards are a great place to ask and discuss. For example, Seabourn cruisers use the message boards to connect repeat passengers with $400 referral coupons to new passengers looking for extra onboard credit.


View from center of the back of Princess cruise ship

4. Scour for price drops.

Be your own bargain advocate. Sign up for cruise line e-letters, which will inform you about the latest deals, and even check their pages on social media. If you see a bargain that’s better than the one you have, call your agent to see if it’s possible to make a switch. Depending on the terms of a new fare or promotion, you might be able to score extra perks, get a price reduction, upgrade your cabin or receive the fare difference in onboard credit. While some travel agents might notify you of price drops, you’re the person most invested in your vacation, so it makes sense to monitor the price changes yourself.


5. Pay more for a lower total price.

Sure it sounds counterintuitive, but if you don’t mind shelling out a little extra on the base cruise fare, the upgrades and amenities included can make a significant impact on your total vacation expenses. If you’re on a super tight budget and plan on limiting onboard spending, then it might be important to adhere to low cruise rates, down to the last cent. However, if you have the ability to pay a bit more, the returns can be much greater than the difference in fares. You’ll hear it often from travel agents: The best deal isn’t always the sailing with the cheapest price. For example, pay slightly more for an ocean-view or balcony cabin, and on some lines you can receive an included drink package, internet or prepaid tips that aren’t available to inside cabin cruisers. The perks included in upper stateroom categories could add hundreds of dollars of value to your vacation. Think about what amenities you plan to buy (be it airfare or alcohol), and compare the total cost of a cheap fare plus all the add-ons with a pricier intro fare that includes more. The results might surprise you.

Inside vs. Outside Cruise Cabins: A Cabin Comparison

With so many types of cruise ship cabins in so many different categories, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you, especially if you’re new to cruising. What exactly is the difference between an inside cabin and an outside cabin, anyway? Read on as we compare the differences between interior versus oceanview staterooms, and determine which will serve as your home on the high seas.

Similarities Between Inside and Outside Cabins

When comparing inside versus outside cabins, you will find that both offer beds, bathrooms, desk/vanity combos and closets. You’ll also find standard electronics like a phone, a TV, a safe and a hair dryer.

Most staterooms are meant for double occupancy; there are generally two twin beds that can be combined to form a European king (bigger than a standard queen and smaller than a standard king). Cabins in both categories might also offer pulldown beds or pullout couches to sleep additional passengers.

Bathrooms most commonly have a shower-only setup (no bathtubs). Toilets and sinks with mirrors are standard, as are small shelves for storing toiletries. (Complimentary soap and shampoo are often found in dispensers mounted inside the shower or in hotel-sized bottles.)

In most rooms, closet and drawer space is ample. Shelves offer space to store folded clothes and shoes, and nicer garments can be hung in the closet with the provided hangers.

A desk/vanity area, usually offering a large mirror and additional drawer space, is ideal for checking email on your personal electronics, blow-drying hair and putting on makeup.

Inside Cruise Cabin

Differences Between Outside and Inside Rooms

Oceanview cabins offer just that — views of the ocean. That means these types of staterooms boast either portholes (small, round windows) or picture windows, which let in natural light. The windows don’t open, however, so don’t assume that an outside cabin will also come with ocean sounds or fresh air. Also be aware that some windows can be obstructed by lifeboats and other ship fixtures.

Inside cabins, meanwhile, offer no windows or natural light at all. For that reason, another major difference comes in the form of price: Interior cabins are almost always less expensive. For the most part, there isn’t much of a difference in square footage between the two, but occasionally you might find oceanview cabins on some ships to be slightly larger than their inside counterparts, allowing for additional furniture like couches or chairs.

Outside Cabin

Outside vs. Inside Cruise Cabins

Ultimately, the decision between inside versus outside cruise cabins comes down to whether you want a window. If you absolutely must have natural light or a way to see your external surroundings from your room, an outside cabin is for you. Otherwise, save yourself some cash, and book an inside cabin — especially if you don’t plan on spending much time in your cabin during the day.

 

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Score the Best Cruise Price Every Time

When it comes to booking a cruise, not much feels better than knowing you scored the best cruise price possible. Savvy travelers understand that getting the best pricing and perks means you have to be vigilant. But, if you’re willing to put in extra time and work, the payoff could mean you’re saving hundreds of dollars more than the folks in the next cabin.

The best deals come to those who are flexible, loyal to a specific line and who have a good relationship with a travel professional. While some people love last-minute deals, booking well ahead of time can give you plenty of opportunities to save. Follow these steps to save big on your next cruise.

Step 1. Book your next cruise while you’re on a cruise.

Cruise lines want you to sail on their ships again and again, and they’ll reward you for your loyalty. Devoted cruisers and big spenders get perks like free cocktail receptions, complimentary laundry or cabin upgrades, but even first-time cruisers can score big if they book more cruises while still at sea.

Most cruise lines have programs that reward you with onboard credit, reduced deposits or discounts if you book while you’re sailing. Generally, the rewards and conditions are better if you book a specific sailing, rather than simply an unspecified “future sailing.” Celebrity Cruises, for example, offers up to $500 in onboard credit if you pick your ship and sail date, while you’ll get up to $200 if you choose to commit later. Onboard credit can be used for virtually anything, including gratuities, so the savings go straight to your bottom line.

Booking onboard? Find out how to score extras and discounts.

Step 2. Keep an eye out for the big sales.

Your work isn’t done just because you’ve booked. If you’ve locked up a sailing early and given yourself the luxury of time, you have a lot of built-in flexibility and can take advantage of sales that cruise lines run periodically throughout the year, such as wave season deals. Many cruise lines allow you to combine an onboard booking with at least one other offer, so if you see a great deal, you could be eligible for better pricing and even more perks such as drink packages, additional onboard credit or prepaid gratuities. Cruise lines also have flash sales throughout the year, and those are famously great opportunities to snag cruise add-ons.

Check out Cruise Critic’s deals page for the latest cruise line sales.

booking with a travel agent

Step 3. Transfer that booking to your favorite travel agent.

When your chosen cruise line is having a sale with perks you like, transfer your booking to a travel agent you trust. This way, you can keep all the benefits from your original onboard booking, gain access to the current cruise line and agency sale perks, and have someone manage your booking so you don’t have to. Yep, you read that right. Not only can you double-dip on some cruise line deals, but travel agencies might even offer further perks — additional onboard credit, for example — and work with you to access price drops and cabin upgrades. One caveat: Some cruise lines give you a limited time frame in which to transfer your booking, usually 60 to 90 days after the onboard booking.

Read our tips for finding a travel agent who fits your style.

Step 4. Monitor your cruise pricing daily, or let someone do it for you.

With most lines, if a price drops, you can get the lower price all the way up until you’ve made your final payment. Cruise fares change a lot more than you probably realize, and sometimes low rates last for only a few hours at a time. Some travel agents will monitor prices for you and alert you to drops, for a fee. There’s also power in numbers. After you’ve booked a specific sailing, sign up for a Cruise Critic Roll Call. Often, Cruise Critic members will share information on when a price falls. If you learn of a price drop, contact your travel agent right away to get the new lower rate. If you’ve already made your final payment and come across a price drop, it doesn’t hurt to contact the cruise line; cruisers have told us they’ve received upgrades or onboard credit even after that last payment.

Follow these four steps, and you can board your next cruise feeling confident that you got a great deal. Here are a couple of additional ways to save, if relevant to your booking.

Book with a group.

Booking a cruise with a group can lead to some nice savings. While the perks vary from line to line, most companies will reward large groups with discounts and incentives. If you’re the leader of a group, you could end up with a free cruise, or you can spread the wealth by sharing the discount with the rest of your party.

Refer a cruiser.

Some travel agents will offer a small onboard credit if you refer a new client to them. Similarly, Crown and Anchor loyalty program members receive onboard credit ($25 per cabin) for referring new-to-Royal Caribbean cruisers.

How to get VIP Status on Big Ship Lines

7 Big-Ship Cruise Lines With VIP Options

Perks like free cocktails, an exclusive hangout and a concierge who makes restaurant and spa reservations are not limited to small-ship, luxury cruises. Several big-ship cruise lines wanting to coddle frequent cruisers and passengers residing in high-rent suites are now offering members-only concierge lounges as an attractive perk with VIP options.

These lounges serve as private hideaways for passengers in the most expensive accommodations. They’re typically outfitted with couches and comfortable chairs, big-screen TVs and private bars, so elite passengers can relax or socialize as they see fit. The other major plus is the added service of the actual concierge, who can do niggling chores, such as booking shore excursions or dinners at specialty restaurants, arranging shore tours or resolving any issues that come up.

Are you itching to get your foot in the door of one of these shipboard hideaways? Here’s a sneak peek inside seven big-ship concierge lounges — as well as qualification requirements for acquiring the right key card so you can access all these perks on your next cruise.

1. Celebrity Cruises

Lounge Name: Michael’s Club, available on all Celebrity ships.

How You Qualify: Passengers in Sky, Signature, Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites and Captain’s Club Zenith members all have access to Michael’s Club. Concierge-level cabin occupants receive concierge services but may not use the club.

Amenities: Continental breakfast is served in Michael’s every morning, while complimentary pre-dinner drinks and tapas are served from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The lounge also features a large-screen TV and reading chairs with a variety of magazines, newspapers and books on hand.

Concierge Services: The concierge helps to arrange specialty dining reservations and procure shore excursion tickets, and can even answer general questions about ports of call.

Open Hours: Michael’s Club is open 24 hours a day, though the concierge desk hours vary by itinerary.

2. Disney Cruise Line

Lounge Name: Concierge Lounge, located on all Disney ships.

How You Qualify: Passengers must be booked in a suite or concierge-level stateroom in order to utilize the space.

Amenities: The Concierge Lounge serves up complimentary snacks and nonalcoholic beverages (cocktails can be purchased), along with an included Wi-Fi package. There is also a private sun deck for Concierge Lounge-eligible guests — located on Deck 13 of Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream or Deck 10 of Disney Wonder — featuring a dedicated host, lounge chairs and complimentary sunblock.

Concierge Services: Eligible passengers can attend a private welcome reception, with food and drink, in the lounge. During the voyage, concierge services can be used to book excursions, make restaurant reservations or in-room dining arrangements, secure spa appointments (or arrange beach cabana spa treatments on Disney’s private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay), organize child care services or help plan special occasions.

Open Hours: The Concierge Lounge is open 24 hours a day; the concierge is on duty from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

3. Holland America Line

Lounge Name: Neptune Lounge, available on all Holland America ships.

How You Qualify: Only passengers who book a Neptune or Pinnacle Suite are allowed in.

Amenities: This private relaxation area features a wide-screen TV; reading areas stocked with magazines, newspapers and books; and specialty coffees served throughout the day. Continental breakfast with coffee and tea is available from 7 until 10:30 a.m., light lunch (including sandwiches) is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., tea time follows from 2 until 5 p.m., with appetizers and snacks served from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Concierge Services: Concierge services include booking reservations at the Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurant, express booking for shore excursions (suite passengers get priority on tours), handling inquiries about car rentals or restaurants in ports of call, arranging spa appointments and settling billing questions.

Open Hours: The Neptune Lounge is open every day from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

 

4. MSC Cruises

Lounge Name: Top Sail Lounge, found in the MSC Yacht Club on MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside.

How You Qualify: Book a Yacht Club cabin, part of MSC Cruises‘ private-access suite enclave.

Amenities: The lounge is decked out with comfortable couches and TVs. Complimentary drinks, pastries and appetizers are available all day long. MSC’s Top Sail Lounge also features gourmet light fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner — a perk not found in most other cruise lines’ concierge lounges. Because the aptly named Top Sail Lounge is located on a top deck, passengers can enjoy beautiful views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Yacht Club passengers also have access to a private pool area and an alfresco bar serving food.

Concierge Services: The concierge staff will make reservations for alternative dining venues and spa services, arrange private shore excursions and facilitate onboard shopping. Plus, your cabin’s personal butler, available 24 hours a day, will cater to your whims; he or she can help with unpacking, serve you afternoon tea and bring you your preferred newspaper daily.

Open Hours: The lounge is always open.

5. Norwegian Cruise Line

Lounge Name: Passengers staying in Norwegian‘s The Haven, the line’s all-suite enclave, available on Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Escape, have access to a private concierge desk and adjacent cocktail lounge, as well as an exclusive restaurant and outdoor courtyard. The same amenities are found on Norwegian Joy, which caters to the Chinese market, and will be implemented on Norwegian Bliss, scheduled to debut in 2018.

How You Qualify: Passengers booked in The Haven qualify for these privileges.

Amenities: The concierge desk is set just next to The Haven Lounge, which is equipped with a bar, light bites and several seating areas. Next door, a lavish breakfast and lunch from a special menu are served to eligible passengers in The Haven Restaurant. Haven passengers also have access to a gorgeous private courtyard with a pool, hot tubs, sauna and sun deck with lounge beds.

Concierge Services: Based in The Haven complex, a dedicated concierge is available to make dinner, entertainment and shore excursion reservations; book airport transfers and print boarding passes; answer questions and attend to special requests. The concierge will also facilitate priority disembarkation for suite passengers on port days and the last day of the cruise.

Open Hours: The concierge is always available by phone, but is available for in-person consultations every day until 4 p.m.

6. Princess Cruises

Lounge Name: Concierge Lounge, located on Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

How You Qualify: Princess‘ suite passengers are granted access to the lounge.

Amenities: The Concierge Lounge is outfitted with couches and chairs, a selection of books and magazines, and offers light snacks and beverages. The lounge also is used as a private disembarkation lounge for suite passengers.

Concierge Services: Full front desk services are available to concierge-level passengers, plus the concierge can help with shore excursion, specialty dining and Lotus spa reservations.

Open Hours: The Concierge Lounge is open 24 hours, but a concierge is only on duty from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. most days. (Hours vary on turnaround days.)

7. Royal Caribbean International

Lounge Name: Every Royal Caribbean ship is equipped with a Concierge or Diamond Club lounge.

How You Qualify: Passengers must be Diamond Plus or Pinnacle Club members of the Crown & Anchor Society, or be booked into select suites to access the Concierge Lounge. On Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, as well as on Radiance of the Seas, Diamond members also have access to a similar lounge, called the Diamond Lounge.

Amenities: A continental breakfast is served in the Concierge Lounge every morning from 8 until 10 a.m., and hors d’oeuvres and petits fours are served before and after dinner. A self-service, no-fee bar is available in the evenings. DVDs and CDs are available to borrow during concierge hours. (There’s no TV in the lounge.)

Concierge Services: The concierge will help VIP passengers make reservations for specialty restaurants, book shore excursions and spa appointments, assist with the arrangements for private parties, help with purchasing show tickets, offer personalized shopping advice and pre-order wine for dinner. The concierge can also assist passengers with business services, such as faxing or copying, for a fee.

Open Hours: The Concierge Lounge is open 24 hours a day; the concierge is on duty from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

 By Elissa Garay, Cruise Critic contributor

This Island With An Abandoned Fort And Pristine Beaches Is Perfect For A Day Trip

Have you ever wished you could drop everything and get away from it all, even for just a day? We’ve told you about secluded beaches around Florida, like the shores of Lovers Key and Shell Island. We thought you’d love to hear about another lovely little island getaway, Egmont Key.

The Best City In America Is Actually Right Here In Florida

Dunedin is a small city in Pinellas County. At around 35,000 residents, it might be small, but it has so much to offer. With its celebrated Scottish roots, charming small-town vibe, and some of the best beaches in the country, Dunedin is not just one of the best cities in Florida. It might just be the best city in America.

This city is not just a safe, friendly place to raise a family, it’s also tons of fun. You can watch a Toronto Blue Jays spring training game, sample the brews at Florida’s oldest craft brewery, visit the renowned Dunedin Fine Arts Center, watch the annual Mardi Gras parade, and participate in the Highland Games (a tribute to Dunedin’s Scottish heritage). Dunedin has received praise as one of the best places to retire and one of the most walkable cities in the country. As if that weren’t enough, the gorgeous, unspoiled beaches of Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island often make lists of best beaches in the U.S. We love this town, and we know you will, too.

If you still don’t believe us, take a look at some of the charm and natural beauty of this city:

Downtown Dunedin

Honeymoon Island

Pinellas Trail

 

Here Are 25 Disney Secrets Everyone Should Know

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attracts more than 18 million tourists every year–more than any other theme park in the world. Add in the numbers from its other parks, and Disney seems to approach world domination. Although visiting Disney World is definitely a touristy thing to do, most Florida families like to take advantage of the proximity to The Most Magical Place on Earth. Thus, many residents become die-hard Disney fans.

The Magic Kingdom is divided into six distinct areas (lands), arranged in a spoke-like formation, all meeting at the top of Main Street U.S.A. right in front of Cinderella Castle. The six lands consist of Main Street USATomorrowlandFantasylandFrontierland, Liberty Squareand Adventureland. Each land is themed to its appropriate title and maintaining that theme is paramount to the parks operation. A vast network of underground tunnels connect all sections of the Magic Kingdom, thus preventing guests from seeing any of the necessary “behind the scenes” operations, and preventing cast members from one land from having to walk through another. Well, that was the original idea anyway – recent changes to park policy now allow cast members to walk freely through the park in whatever outfit they happen to be wearing.

The Magic Kingdom contains some real “don’t miss” attractions, depending on what age bracket you fall in.  One of this park’s strengths is the cross-generational appeal of many of its better attractions.  Splash Mountain is a good example.  It’s not unusual to see three generations of family members riding together.  Other favorites like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train,Jungle CruisePirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion offer similar appeal to a wide range of visitors.

This video, (though it’s not just about Disney World,) has some really cool facts about our parks. You’ll be looking for this stuff everywhere the next time you visit!

 

What did you think about this video? Do you have any other cool facts that they might have missed? Please share your comments with us below!

Posted in FloridaDecember 19, 2015by 

 

Travel: Experience ‘Game of Thrones’ Locations In Real Life With These Airbnb Rentals

Want to experience the world of Game of Thrones without having to worry about spending the night somewhere dark and full of terrors? Of course you do. With some assistance from Airbnb, we found rentals in Croatia, Spain and Northern Ireland that will allow you to live out your wildest Game of Thrones fantasies (well, within reason) in close proximity to the real world locations that set the stage for the show.

Dubrovnik, Croatia: King’s Landing

Founded by refugees of Epidaurus in the 7th Century, Dubrovnik, Croatia is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with gorgeous architecture, high walls and enough old world charm for a king. All those things are why this is one of the perfect host locations for King’s Landing, the epicenter of the Seven Kingdoms and the (until recently) Lannister empire. Even without the CGI rendered buildings of the show you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of everyone’s favorite fictional capital as you take the King’s Landing Dubrovnik tours around the city, soak up some sun by the Adriatic Sea or just enjoy the comfort of one of these two great Airbnbs.

Midsummer Night’s Dream Historic Villa

Surrounded by the historic Dubrovnik gardens with amazing views of the St. Lawrence fortress and the Adriatic Sea, this 18th Century historic villa situated above Old Town Dubrovnik is secluded and private while still being less than ten minutes from all the action, including the beach and the Adriatic Sea. Make sure to bring a portable battery charger because you’re going to be taking a lot of golden hour shots.

Villa Mediteran Dubrovnik

With accommodations for up to 12 guests the Villa Mediteran Dubrovnik checks all the boxes when it comes to living in the lap of luxury. Chiseled stone construction. Large garden terraces. Mediterranean vegetation. Proximity to Old Town and the St. Lawrence fortress. It’s the perfect spot for a king or queen to overlook their dominion… from the comfort of their air-conditioned, wifi-equipped and modern villa.

Girona, Spain: King’s Landing/Braavos

From the 11th century Girona Cathedral to the sprawling alleys of the Medieval Quarter, it’s no wonder that the impressive architecture of the Spanish city Girona is heavily tapped as a filming location for Game of Thrones. Whether you’re adventuring towards the massive cathedral up the same steps Jaime Lannister rode or doing your best “girl with no name” interpretation of Arya escaping the Waif, the Gothic architecture and surrounding landscapes will transport you to a different time.

Casa Mercè

A short two minute walk from City Hall, La Rambla and the monumental center you’ll find Casa Mercè, a recently renovated estate from the middle of the 1800’s with an interior as cool as any huge NYC apartment and an exterior that will leave you feeling like you’re spending time in Qarth. It’s beautiful, charming and perfect for larger family with enough space for up to eight guests spread out over four bedrooms.

Apartment in the Shadow of the Cathedral

The name says it all with this one. Remember those steps we just finished talking about? They’re literally outside your window. The square looks a little different than it does in the show because it’s not actually seaside, but that doesn’t stop this location from being breathtaking. With room for up to three guests in two bedrooms, this spot right on the square is perfect for a small traveling group and is one of the the cheaper Airbnb stays on the list.

Northern Ireland, United Kingdom: Castle Black/The Iron Islands/Winterfell

In addition to having absurdly beautiful landscape shots just about everywhere, Northern Ireland is home base for the Game of Thrones production team. The enormous Paint Hall studio in Belfast–originally a part of the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built–isn’t open for tours when they’re filming interiors for Winterfell, Cast Black, the Great Sept of Baelor or Dany’s throne room in Meereen, but you will find plenty of exterior locations, many with tours, that you can visit. Start with one of these two off-the-grid Airbnbs.

18th Century Irish Stone Cottage

The 18th Century Irish Stone Cottage has everything you could ever ask for in rustic, old-fashioned bed and breakfast vibes. Whatever Tullyquilly Cottage lacks in imposing size it makes up for in modern amenities (wireless, underfloor heating, outdoor hut tub!) and a quaint, countryside location that just so happens to be less than hour from a hunt for the three-eyed raven in the haunted forest at Tollymore Forest Park or Winterfell tours at Castle Ward.

Restored Linen Mill with Waterwheel

Near the northern part of Lough Neagh in the heart of County Antrim (which Belfast is part of) you’ll find Old Stone Mill, a spacious, three level property with 4 bedrooms, space for 8, a functional waterwheel and a host that knows where all the best breweries and Game of Thrones tours are. It’s close to the Giant’s Causeway, Magheramorne Quarry (Castle Black, Hardhome, King’s Landing), Castle Ward and plenty of good golfing if you want to hit the links in between adventures.

Travel: Solar Eclipse Stay

As you might have heard, August 21 will mark the first total solar eclipse seen across the US in almost 100 years. This Solar Eclipse Stay is the ideal way to experience it. You’ll start by spending the night of the 20th in a geodesic dome in rural Oregon, joined by an astrophysicist and a professional night sky photographer. The next day, as the Moon prepares to pass between the Earth and the Sun, you’ll take to the skies in a private jet for a truly unique view of this rare celestial event. Not available for purchase, one lucky winner will get to enjoy the experience courtesy of Airbnb.

Get Paid to Drink Whiskey and Travel the World

Grant’s Whisky is looking for a global brand ambassador, which is a fancy way of saying they’re looking for someone who will travel the world convincing people to drink their whisky. Which means the traveler is also going to be drinking a lot of whisky. The application process has three parts, the first of which is easy. Simply make a three ingredient cocktail that uses Grant’s whisky and post a picture of it with the recipe on Instagram or Facebook. The second part is a whisky mixer in Speyside, Scotland, where the distillery’s 20 favorite applicants will come and bump elbows with Grant’s higher ups. If you make it through that, you’ll be sent off on one of three separate global treks involving three different destinations to help the company plan events and sell whisky. Each of the destinations will net you a suitcase of Grant’s, so even if you don’t get the job, you’re going home with one hell of a souvenir.