Category Archives: TRAVEL

Happy 30th Shark Week! Princess Cruises Celebrates with ‘Summer of Shark’ Activities

Want to know a great way to spend a Saturday? Get invited as a media guest to celebrate all of the Princess Cruises Shark Week activities onboard a big cruise ship! Want to know a not-so-great way to end that Saturday? That moment you have to get off the ship before it sails off to its first port, LOL. I was totally Googling Princess Cruises prices on the car ride home that day. Sad. Anyways…the reason I’m writing this post is to let you know that Shark Week is turning 30. YES 30! Can you believe? And there are major celebrations in the works!

Princess Cruises Shark Week

If you’re not familiar, each year Shark Week takes viewers on a week-long journey to the depths of the sea to uncover the secrets of the ocean’s top creature. Airing around the globe, Shark Week is a pop culture phenomenon that thrills fans of all ages with dynamic programming around these often-misunderstood sea creatures.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, Princess Cruises has transformed Shark Week into a full season, with its first-ever “Summer of Shark” onboard the Caribbean Princess for its summer sailings in the Caribbean.

Princess Cruises Shark Week

This past weekend, Princess Cruises, in partnership with Discovery, Inc., invited us to the official launch of its “Summer of Shark” activities plus the unveiling of artist Phillip Colbert-designed shark decal on the starboard surface of the Caribbean Princess. It is a cool design!

Princess Cruises Shark Week

Princess Cruises Shark Week

As part of the Discovery at SEA program, Caribbean Princess will be the one ship in the fleet that will be celebrating sharks all summer. She will have specialty themed designed public spaces including elevators, restaurants and casino tables. Additionally, select sailings in Alaska and the United Kingdom will have Shark Week rolling out starting July 7. Guests onboard all ships will also get to view programming from Shark Week 2018 including ”Great White Abyss,” available exclusively on Princess Cruises in June, in advance of it airing on the Discovery Channel during Shark Week, which begins July 22.

Princess Cruises Shark Week Activities for Families

As for the family activities, kids and teens aboard these sailings will have shark-themed fun in the newly redesigned Camp Discovery teen and youth centers. Children ages 3 – 17 can turn into their favorite type of shark with glitter tattoos and shark face painting (check out Avery’s art below!). Or, they can create arts and crafts to take home, including shark teeth jewelry and shark clay models. Avery loves the ones she made onboard!

Princess Cruises Shark Week

Princess Cruises Shark Week

Adults can get into the spirit with specialty cocktails that have been carefully curated onboard including a Shark Attack Margarita and the tropical Great Blue Shark. I might have indulged in one or two at lunch. 😉

Princess Cruises Shark Week

Beyond the Princess Cruises Shark Week theme, those looking to have their very own Shark Week experiences can book the ultimate adrenaline rush with Animal Planet Exclusive and Recommended excursions such as the Princess Exclusive Great White Shark Diving Encounter in Honolulu or Whale Shark Encounter in La Paz, Mexico. No big deal.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.

I also urge you to check out some of the other fun Shark Week partnerships they’ve arranged for their 30th like Build-A-Bear Workshop, Swedish Fish and Vineyard Vines!

Spicy in St. Augustine | Getting Away for the Health of Your Marriage

Sometimes, even the most seasoned of couples can use a little spice in their life. After you have children, it’s so easy to fall into the day-to-day parenting routine, unintentionally pushing romance to the backseat of your relationship. That “backseat” description is rather perfect too, because this blog post is all about taking road trips for a healthy marriage! (I just love it when the blog writing flows, LOL…) 

My point is, sometimes you need to get AWAY to focus on YOU as a couple…not JUST as ‘mom and dad.’ Eliminate the kids = eliminate the distractions.

trips for a healthy marriage Mazda3 Grand Touring

For us, that meant taking a kid-free trip to our college town of St. Augustine, FL! To get there (and home again), we partnered with Mazda to experience their 2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring. Even though it has 4 doors, I wouldn’t personally classify it as a family sedan– I reserve Mazda’s SUV’s for that honor.  It was a “zippy red car with a sunroof”…and so much more as we headed up I-95 to our nation’s oldest city by ourselves.

trips for a healthy marriage Mazda3 Grand Touring

trips for a healthy marriage Mazda3 Grand Touring

Road Trips for a Healthy Marriage

On our 4 hour drive north from Boca Raton, we definitely enjoyed the Mazda3’s leatherette-trimmed sport seats and steering wheel. Our car’s MAZDA CONNECT™ Infotainment System also kept us entertained with us taking full advantage of Sirius XM satellite radio and the navigation system. The icing on the Mazda cake? Our Grand Touring boasted a Bose® 9 speaker surround sound system with Centerpoint® 2 and AudioPilot® 2. Sound heaven I tell you. There’s nothing better than Bose!

trips for a healthy marriage Mazda3 Grand Touring

trips for a healthy marriage Mazda3 Grand Touring

The Mazda3 has SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS which is a new technology that helps give drivers and passengers a less fatiguing drive. This is key both on long drives and when scooting around town. Learn more about that tech on the Mazda website HERE.

trips for a healthy marriage Mazda3 Grand Touring

Solo in St. Augustine

Once we arrived in St. Augustine at our bed & breakfast (a super cute “old Florida” place, The Cozy Inn),  we opened up a bottle of wine and relaxed. Alone in a hotel room with a guaranteed full night’s sleep ahead of us? Ooh la la!

We had a couple of college alumni events to attend the following day, but aside from those we could do whatever we wanted! I had a strong urge to sleep in and go shopping for clothes at the outlet mall (in peace). Modern Boca Dad wanted to get craft cocktails (love Odd Birds) and have a nice dinner (I highly recommend Preserved restaurant in Lincolnville). We did it all– without rushing, without begging a little person to put on shoes and without having to wipe, feed or chase anyone. It was heaven.

This summer, I highly recommend adding “taking road trips for a healthy marriage” to the top of your to do list. Being a mother is wonderful and you don’t have to go far to spice up your marriage. But maybe like me, you’ll actually get back to feeling connected to your partner as a wife and adult woman again. It’s a great feeling!

trips for a healthy marriage


Disclosure: Modern Boca Mom was loaned a 2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring for the period of one week for consideration in this blog post.

Connect with Mazda on social media! LIKE on Facebook and Follow Mazda on Twitter to stay up to date on all of the latest car trends and special offers. #drivemazda

Best Cruise Lines for Boca Families Revealed

So you’re thinking about planning a family vacation this year…and perhaps you’re considering cruising for the first time with your whole brood? Well, it’s no wonder a family cruise is on your mind because it’s hard to beat their tremendous value. Cruises are virtually all inclusive and you can often qualify for special group rates or discounts. But aside from cost, the main reason I like cruising with my family so much is that it is truly a HASSLE-FREE vacation. There are few trips out there where you’re going to have access to 24-hour room service, a 2x per day room cleaning and 100% of your meals prepared. Sign me up! That’s why did some digging on iCruise.com to find out the best cruise lines for Boca families.

Best Cruise Lines for Boca Families
Courtesy iCruise.com
Best Cruise Lines for Boca Families

The first thing I did when reviewing iCruise.com’s picks was check to see if Disney Cruise Line was on the list. Not a shocker– it is! That was the first cruise we took our preschooler on last year and it hooked us. The best cruise lines for Boca families (as recommended by the team at iCruise.com) include:

  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Costa Cruise Lines
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Holland America Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

But the real question is WHY? Bottom line: it’s all about the kids programs and entertainment.

Best Cruise Lines for Boca Families
Courtesy iCruise.com
These three offerings sounded the most interesting to me as a mom, so I had to share:
  1. Celebrity Cruises: 24-hour room service and butler service; “kids only” areas, teen centers & pools; Family Program that lists the activities each morning; Celebrity’s Science Journeys that allow kids to explore science and nature (offered daily); Broadway-style production in the theater; on-board Enrichment Series that highlight special attractions of the upcoming port.
  2. Disney: Walt Disney Theater with live Disney musical stage productions and game shows; Studio Sea Family Nightclub for all ages: karaoke, game shows, dancing; ESPN Skybox, movies, and internet access; Kids Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab (kids programs) open 9:00 a.m. to midnight; rooms have more storage space than most ships <— I can personally attest to this! The half bath split also comes in super handy.
  3. Norwegian: Relaxed dress codes; basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, rock wall, mini-golf, bowling alley, water slides, Wii Wall, Nickelodeon entertainment, Youth programs: Splash Academy and Entourage; Broadway-style shows, comedy, magic shows, dancing, offers family bowling, ropes course, Wii Sports, rock climbing, mini golf.
Best Cruise Lines for Boca Families
Courtesy iCruise.com
Another cool thing? Cruise lines can also handle picky eaters!

Most ships can accommodate for food allergies. They have kids menus and tons of snack options. But if you’re planning on taking advantage of a ship’s main restaurant, remember that most cruises have dress codes for dining.  Other restaurants on board typically don’t follow the formal dress code. However, I found it really fun to dress up as a family! Why not add a little glam to your family cruise vacation? We are from Boca after all!


Sponsored: This post was sponsored by iCruise.com. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor. Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I have been compensated, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

Disney’s World of Avatar Highlights + The Dolphin’s BIG Resort Renovation

What do dolphins and banshees have in common? Well, a lot if you happen to be staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin AND heading to Animal Kingdom to experience all of the World of Avatar highlights for the first time ever!

World of Avatar highlights

After visiting the Walt Disney World Swan in late 2016 and learning about the multi-phase, multi-year, $140 million redesign project that planned to transform every guest room in the 758-room Swan Hotel and the 1,509-room Dolphin Hotel, I wanted to go back to check out the progress on our first trip to #visitpandora.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Disclosure: The Dolphin provided us with a media rate to stay on property. This allowed us to check out all of the new guest room features as well as their gorgeous new lobby.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

The renovated rooms now include upgraded furniture as well as all of the latest technology including large HD TVs. Additional power outlets provide family travelers (and bloggers) more options for use of multiple personal electronics. And of course, we love a good balcony room with a view!

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

The new room design was inspired by the resort’s water-themed architecture. The goal was to create a serene and sophisticated atmosphere. I think they succeeded!

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin
The centerpiece of the room is the famous Westin Heavenly Bed with its all-white custom-designed pillow-top mattress set, cozy down blanket, a trio of crisp sheets, goose down comforter and four over- stuffed pillows.
Walt Disney World Dolphin
The design continues into a completely new bathroom, featuring a back-lit mirror mounted on iridescent glass tiles.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

MBMom Tip: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin offers 17 restaurants and lounges. Take advantage!

We especially loved the all-new look of Phins in the Dolphin lobby. Phins is a contemporary lounge where guests can enjoy sipping on custom-crafted cocktails, a glass of vintage wine, or even a frosty mug of special Phins and Feathers beer. You can then enjoy your drinks under the sophisticated ambiance of a spectacular custom-made crystal chandelier. It’s gorgeous, trust me.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Our family also took advantage of the grab and go restaurant, fuel, in the Dolphin lobby. If you’re looking to stock up with snacks for the theme parks, this place will come in handy. We filled up on coffee and ready-made breakfast sandwiches before heading to Animal Kingdom to check out the World of Avatar highlights.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

MBMom Tip: Complimentary bus transportation is available to all of the parks from the Swan and Dolphin. Or, you can take a short water taxi to Epcot® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Walt Disney World Dolphin is also ridiculously close to Disney’s Boardwalk, which is a really cool area! We grabbed pizza over there on our last night.

Walt Disney World Dolphin


As for Pandora… Walt Disney’s World of Avatar Highlights

We might be one of the last ones to the party, but we FINALLY had the time (and Disney Annual Passes) to visit Pandora: The World of Avatar this February. Granted we were daytime visitors, but I feel like we got a healthy dose of this new attraction, especially when it came to the cuisine. But, we do look forward to returning again to see it in all its glory at night!

When you enter the World of Avatar, you essentially become an eco-tourist. You’ll encounter floating mountains, a glowing, bioluminescent rainforest and other wonders of an alien world. The premise of the land is that the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora is undergoing a rebirth long after a destructive mining operation ceased operation. Eco-tourists (aka us!) for the first time, can travel to this exoplanet located in the Alpha Centauri star system 4.4 light years from Earth. Pretty cool, huh?

My 4 year-old daughter didn’t really know anything about the movie prior to entering the land, but she was game for it all (albeit not tall enough to ride Flight of Passage yet, so we missed that one this time). Instead she settled for face painting this trip. 

World of Avatar Flora

The Walt Disney Imagineering landscape architecture team worked side by side with the land’s design and engineering teams to ensure that thousands of Pandoran plants fit into the overall landscape plan. You truly couldn’t tell the real plants from the fake apart. It was impressive!

More than 250 varieties of live trees, shrubs and epiphytes mingle with the Pandoran. The Disney horticulture team planted more than 500 trees and nearly 10,000 shrubs across the Pandoran landscape.

Na’vi River Journey

At the center of Pandora is a riparian area, where waterfalls cascade from the mountaintops into gentle pools and streams. One stream follows a peaceful path along the entry to Pandora. The other flows into the Na’vi River Journey, where guests board reed boats for an excursion to see the revered Shaman of Songs.

We loved hopping on the reed boat for Na’vi River Journey. Seeing all of the glowing flora and fauna were some of the top World of Avatar highlights for me! The best part was that it’s a very family-friendly water adventure…aka slow. 😉

Pandoran Cuisine

All of this adventure had us working up an appetite! We headed to the brand new Satu’li Canteen (formerly the RDA mess hall) to indulge in the international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty libations crafted from Pandora’s natural abundance. We weren’t disappointed and there is virtually no wait if you visit on the earlier side of your day. Here’s what we sampled:

Cheeseburger pods. They were amazing. I’m craving them now, in fact.
Blueberry Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Curd – unique and delicious! Worth getting at least once.

I also sneaked over to  the Pongu Pongu Lounge for a quick cocktail while #dailybocaavery was getting her face painted. The “bioluminescent” frozen cocktail Night Blossom hit the spot for this thirsty traveler! The drink is a mix of limeade combined with apple and desert pear flavors finished off with passion fruit boba balls…and rum if you’d like it.  It’s very tasty and unique!

At night, you’ll see that many of the walkways and paths, like the alien plant life that surrounds them, are bioluminescent. A treatment added to some of the Pandoran walkways gives them a glowing quality. Talk about World of Avatar highlights! Charged by sunlight and reinforced by black light, the glowing pathways literally come to life in the evening.

We can’t wait to travel there again! Have you been to #visitpandora yet?


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Special thanks to Mazda USA for providing our ride to/from Orlando in the 2018 Mazda CX-9!

We loved it. #drivemazda

Check out some of our favorite features from the Mazda CX-9 3 Row 7 Passenger SUV in our video below: