Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • I’ve had the Nokia Lumia 900 in hand for almost a month. The first two days of use, I had so much fun snapping photos and learning my way around this Windows Phone. I had an iPhone until it fell in my back pond, but I had already been wishing for the Lumia 900 since I first saw it at CES 2012 in Las Vegas.

    White Lumia 900 Windows Phone by NokiaTraveling and working via smartphone can be a daunting task and I was able to manage things somewhat with the iPhone. However, I also had to bring along a larger camera and a higher quality digital video camera to help gather all the images and footage of the destinations I was visiting for research. Now with the Windows Phone operating system and the Carl Zeiss Camera housed inside the well-made Lumia 900, it’s my opinion that Nokia has gifted the world with the trifecta for travel writers and bloggers. Why? I not only have my social media channels handy, but I have an 8MP camera with the ability to change the settings, I have a high quality digital video camera, and I even have word processing with Microsoft Office and cloud storage via Skydrive. Add to all this the 4G LTE network for faster data transmission and I am in Traveling Mama heaven.

    As a former iPhone user (and being 38 years old), I will admit that I am digging the larger screen on the Lumia 900. I can read documents, emails, and online articles so much easier. Now when I look at something on the iPhone, I have to squint or enlarge the copy on the screen where I can only read a few words at a time. Apple fans pooh-pooh the Windows Phone OS and the so-called lack of apps available. While there may be more apps available for iPhone, quantity doesn’t beat out quality and the Windows Marketplace offers apps that actually work and don’t take up memory on your smartphone.

    Nokia Lumia 900 with pink skin

    I took the Lumia 900 for its first real travel assignment – Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration in Orlando, Florida. Yes, I was the odd blogger who was not working with iPhone in hand and I did get a few curious looks when using my white Lumia 900 with the pink skin. It was also a learning process for me as I experimented with the camera and some of the apps I discovered in Windows Marketplace.

    Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom taken with Nokia Lumia 900

    Travel Documents – I was able to access my itinerary and booking numbers with ease with OneNote, which was also saved in my SkyDrive account, should my phone somehow get misplaced.

    Music – I use the time in an airplane to either read a good book or listen to my favorite music. A concern I had at first when switching from iPhone to Lumia 900 was the potential loss of my iTunes music. With Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac it was a painless process to download my iTunes library into the Lumia 900.

    Battery Life – Unless using an app like Skype which calls on the video, data, and voice capabilities all at the same time, the battery on the Lumia 900 lasts twice as long in the field as the iPhone. I did not have to search for a power outlet while in the theme parks during the day. In the past I would desperately look for any available outlet near noon just to get some extra juice in the iPhone.

    Video – I easily recorded a Mariachi band at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot and uploaded it quickly to my FaceBook page. The last few times I tried to upload video to FaceBook via my iPhone on the 3G network my battery would drain and the video would hangup during the upload. The Lumia 900 was so much easier and faster to upload successfully.

    Photos – I captured a variety of images with the Nokia Lumia 900 and here they are unedited. I am not a professional photographer, just a consumer with a new smartphone.

    NOKIA Lumia 900 using Macro setting image by Shannon Hurst Lane

    NOKIA Lumia 900 self portrait in low light

    Nokia Lumia 900 cocktail image

    Disneys Art of Animation Resort splash pad

    I’m not a tech writer and honestly don’t care about terms like dual core processor or AMOLED touchscreen. What I’m more interested in is the user-friendliness of a device and practical use. While the Nokia Lumia 900 may not be completely perfect (I mourn the lack of Instagram), I can confidently back this smartphone device for the next adventure.

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  • In anticipation of summer, Colonial Williamsburg has a special trip giveaway offer for Traveling Mamas readers. One lucky family will have an opportunity to win one (1) complimentary 4 day/3 night package getaway to enjoy interactive history and unparalleled southern hospitality at one of the country’s most popular must-sees for families. This summer, Colonial Williamsburg will be introducing a variety of new interactive programming adding to the fun, and the Colonial Williamsburg Resort is celebrating 75 years of hospitality, so you’ll enjoy the best in customer service, as well.

    Colonial Willamsburg Family Travel Destination image by Colonial Williamsburg

    Colonial Williamsburg Family BlacksmithProgram highlights this summer include RevQuest: The Lion and the Unicorn, the second chapter in a popular text message-based adventure through the Historic Area. To save the Revolution, players text in for clues that help them decipher codes and find symbols in Historic Area locations they might not otherwise explore. Find your allies among Historic Area interpreters and see if you have what it takes to save the Revolution! Additionally, Colonial Williamsburg’s newest exhibition building, the Public Armoury is open, showcasing historic tradespeople at work.

    Kids are invited to play games, learn to dance and practice 18th century manners at the Benjamin Powell House, help tend the plants at the colonial nursery, pick tobacco at Great Hopes Plantation, or take their shoes off and stomp in the mud helping the brickmakers at the brickyard. For a fun, family meal, the new Huzzah! BBQ Grille features great BBQ favorites with international flair.

    At the Williamsburg Woodlands, families can take advantage of the Fun Zone, including an outdoor pool, putt putt, shuffle board, ping pong, magic shows, cookie decorating, making your own sundaes and more, all right on-site at the hotel.

    With this offer, families can also take advantage of nearby Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Bounce giveaway package includes:

    • 4 days/3 nights at the Williamsburg Woodlands, an official Colonial Williamsburg Hotel
    • Daily breakfast
    • Admission to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and Art Museums
    • Admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA
    • Access to the Fun Zone (outdoor pool, putt putt, ping pong, shuffle board, cookie decorating, magic shows and more)

    The package has a value of more than $800. Can’t make it this summer? This offer can be used anytime within the next 12 months, depending on your schedule.  Some blackout dates apply. The Summer Bounce Package is good until August 30, 2012. Aug 31-Nov 20, the package would include accommodations, breakfast, Colonial Williamsburg admission, and components of the Fun Zone (putt putt, ping pong, shuffle board).
    Colonial Williamsburg Family mini golf activity image by Colonial Williamsburg

    How to Enter:

    Leave a comment letting us know if you’ve ever visited Colonial Williamsburg and/or what activities your family likes to participate in during your summer family vacation. That’s it! Comments close on May 14, 2012 at 11:59PM EST. One comment will be chosen randomly via Random.org and the winner has 48 hours to respond once notified by email from TravelingMamas.com. Must be at least 21 years old. Transportation is not included and we’re opening this contest to citizens worldwide who are planning a visit to the US in the next 12 months. One entry per email address per day. Valid comments will be recovered from Spam.

    Thanks to Colonial Williamsburg for providing this fun family giveaway to TravelingMamas.com readers.

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  • Picture yourself at Walt Disney World, pushing a stroller around, possibly on a multi-generational family trip, and you find nap time is quickly approaching – for everyone. You just want a little Me Time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Parents need to stay sane and take advantage of down time, or even treat themselves to a visit to the parks WITHOUT the kids. Family travel can get crazy, so why not
    ask a family member to watch the kids, giving you and your spouse a few moments of adult time.

    Did you know there are nearly 400 places to dine across Walt Disney World Resort? And that’s not counting the portable food carts. In all, more than 6,000 different food items are available. And chances are, if the restaurants aren’t in the Magic Kingdom, they just might have an adult beverages on the menu for you to enjoy. If wine is your poison of choice, then you’ll want to know that more than 600 sommeliers have been awarded the Court of Master Sommelier Introductory Certificate at Walt Disney World Resort, with more than 300 sommeliers currently in restaurants.

    With so many restaurants and dining choices, where should you go for that “special” drink? Here are just of few of our top choices for a cocktail, beer, or wine while at Walt Disney World.

    Epcot’s World Showcase 

    United Kingdom – The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining room brings visitors into Victorian England with its etched glass panels, dark mahogany bar and authentic dart board. If you are looking for hearty ale, this place offers specially designed ale warmer can heat your Guinness to 55 degrees, should that be your preference.

    Mexico – The pavilion features a festive and colorful celebration of the beauty and culture of Mexico that is fun for guests of all ages. “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros” is an excursion by tour boat through the vibrant, eye-filling sights and lively music of Mexico. If you’re interested in margaritas, you should check out ThemeParkMom’s review of inventive margaritas at La Hacienda de San Angel, a new restaurant in EPCOT.

    Japan – In the Matsu-no-ma Lounge, visitors see a majestic view of Future World across the lagoon while sampling sushi, Japanese pickled vegetables, tempura and exotic specialty drinks.

    Germany – Biergarten, an indoor German “courtyard” featuring a German Oktoberfest buffet. At lunch and dinner time, yodelers, dancers and other lederhosen-clad musicians perform an Oktoberfest dinner show. Guests are invited onstage to join in the musical fun. The wine shop nearby offers samples of Ice Wine for a few bucks. Definitely worth a try.

    French Champagne and Wine cart at EPCOT World ShowcaseFrance – Want a glass of vino but don’t want to wait in the long line inside the wine shop? Across from the front of France there is a wine cart serving Champagne, wines, and frozen blends.

    Want more? Check out our extensive list of wine, beer, and cocktails at Epcot’s World Showcase.

    Other Venues at Disney with Alcohol

    Victoria Falls at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Down a flight of stairs from the lobby, this mezzanine lounge serves wine and spirits imported from Africa, including Windhoek beer from Namibia and Imoya Brandy from South Africa. The specialty drink is a Victoria Falls Mist, with tangerine, melon and banana liqueurs. Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest offering of South African wines anywhere in the US. Be sure to check out Jiko, The Cooking Place, too!

    The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Trendy cocktails are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the day with a Pomegranate Splash (vodka, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice and soda water) or the Ultimate Bloody Mary (organic vodka, Bloody Mary mix and a dash of red chili sauce). The Pure-tini mixes organic vodka with organic mango and passion fruit liqueur. The Antioxidant Cocktail features wild berry vodka, black raspberry liqueur, açai juice with agave, lychee, aloe juice and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, next door to 50’s Prime Time Cafe, looks like a family den from the ’50s, with black-and-white TVs and campy retro furniture. You can choose kitschy drinks from “Dad’s Liquor Cabinet” such as Uncle Tim’s Melon Margarita, Scooter’s Long Island Iced Tea or an Electric Lemonade. Beer and wine is offered, too. My personal favorite is a Magical Star. Check out this video of inside Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as part of our Cocktail Series.

    Dawa Bar adjacent to Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Sit in the shade and sip a hard-to-find Tusker Beer from Africa or Safari Amber, brewed just for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. South African wines are on the drink menu, too, along with cocktails like Lost on Safari with rum and fruit juices.

    Dawa Bar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

    Mizner’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – A live orchestra plays nostalgic Big Band sounds just outside the doors of this lounge tucked away on the second floor of the hotel. The lounge’s namesake is architect Addison Mizner, whose designs launched a “Florida Renaissance” in the 1920s, so the sophisticated drinks are apropos: champagnes, caipirinhas, mint juleps and cosmopolitans, along with nine vodkas, seven different single malt scotch whiskeys and after-dinner cognacs and ports.

    There are more than 50 lounges in Walt Disney World hotels and three theme parks (no alcohol in Magic Kingdom. Again I stress. No alcohol in Magic Kingdom), making this list just a sampling of the many great place for big kids like parents to have their own magic time at Walt Disney World. If there’s a place you’d like us to know about, be sure to leave a comment, helping our readers discover new places to sample adult beverages.

    If you find yourself wandering around looking for a place to buy alcohol at Disney, all you have to do is ask one of the friendly cast members, who can point you in the right direction.  Be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re in the parks also, as alcohol is dehydrating. Designate a driver or take advantage of Disney’s resort transportation. Cheers!

    All Disney venues selling alcohol have a limit of two beverages per sale per person to limit overindulgence on property. Remember, cocktails can be fun, but this is a family friendly destination and not a place to act inappropriate.

     

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  • We love Pringles at TravelingMamas.com and always pack a tube of our favorite flavor on almost every road trip.

    Pringles presents the Tournament of Flavors — a video bracket-style contest on Pringles’ Facebook that premiered recently, where fan-submitted videos showcase a humorous spin on Pringles’ flavors for their chance to win a cash prize.

    In celebration, we’re giving away one (1) $50 American Express gift card to one randomly selected commenter on this post.

    Fans of Pringles can view and vote for their favorite video on the Pringles Facebook page. Here’s my favorite, a fun performance In the Hall of the Pringles King:

    The Pringles Tournament features 16 total videos, 8 Flavors (2 of the same flavors go head-to-head in the first rounds), and 4 Voting Rounds. Voters can also win prizes along the way until the winner is chosen!

    How to enter the Pringles $50 American Express Gift Card Giveaway: Leave a comment telling us which Pringles flavor is your favorite. That’s it! Winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and notified via a valid email address provided by the commenter. All comments will be recovered from spam. Must be 18 years or older to enter and a legal resident of the US. Entries close at 11:59PM EST April 15. Winner will have 48 hours to provide a mailing address.

    Bonus Entry: Tweet this contest and leave the link to your twitter status as a comment to be valid.

    Disclosure: Pringles provided TravelingMamas.com with a gift card for sharing this contest with our readers. All opinions are our own.

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  • Carnival Cruise Lines made an exciting announcement this morning regarding a new ship renovation, and my favorite cruise port — New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Growing up with the stories of Mark Twain and living on the Mississippi River, there’s nothing more beautiful than cruising down Old Man River as the sun sets and the moon rises, passing into the Gulf of Mexico with a glass of Champagne in hand. If you haven’t already taken a cruise from New Orleans, I highly suggest you add this departure port to your bucket list.

    Moonrise on Cruise down Mississippi River from Port of New Orleans

    This morning, Carnival Cruise Lines announced they will rename the Carnival Destiny to the Carnival Sunshine, after a $155 Million refit in 2013. This makeover will include all of the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements that we love, and it will also add 182 cabins to the ship’s layout.

    From February to April 2013 the Carnival Destiny will go into drydock with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to undergo this extensive renovation and be renamed the Carnival Sunshine. The Sunshine will enjoy April through October 2013 with Mediterannean itineraries and then will reposition in her new home port of New Orleans, Louisiana in November 2013. She will replace the Carnival Conquest which is currently in New Orleans.

    The new additions include the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements that were revealed on the Carnival Magic, the Carnival Liberty, and the soon to launch Carnival Breeze. But the fun doesn’t stop there with Carnival. Some of these newer additions caught my eye:

    Dining

    Fahrenheit 555, a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and gourmet appetizers, entrees and desserts, all enhanced by understated ambiance and impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet)

    A stunning new full-service Asian restaurant inspired by the line’s popular Mongolian wok casual eateries that will feature an extensive menu of delicious favorites from the Far East, along with a striking Asian-themed décor (no charge for lunch with a nominal fee for dinner)

    A new casual dining option, “The Comfort Kitchen,” located within the Lido Marketplace and offering a tempting array of American-style “comfort food” entrees and side dishes.

    Bars and Lounges

    An exciting new lounge, Havana Bar, a tropical-inspired nightspot located aft within Lido Marketplace featuring a panoramic ocean view from its floor to ceiling windows and offering a unique and memorable venue for cocktails, live Latin music and dancing

    A new cigar bar concept, with plush, comfortable surroundings, along with fine cigars and a variety of brandies, cognacs and liqueurs, ideal for pre- or post-dinner drinks and conversation

    Outdoor Fun and Relaxation

    Carnival’s first three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat, an oasis of tranquility offering plush chaise lounges and chairs, a whirlpool, a cascading waterfall, teak-planked decks, a pool, a complimentary dining area with freshly made salads that can be customized by guests, and, of course, magnificent sea views

    An All New Thrill Ride as part of the classic WaterWork’s area.

    Of course, this is all in addition to the already amazing Fun Ship 2.0 lineup that we know and love. I’m so excited that Carnival Cruise Lines is investing in the travel and tourism of my home state of Louisiana. This announcement is a testament to the growing number of visitors to Louisiana that have rediscovered what we have to offer as a destination.

    For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com. Be sure to check out all of our articles on TravelingMamas.com past cruise travel experiences.

     

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