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carnival-ecstasy-bowWhat's better - new mega boats or the smaller, older ships like the Carnival Ecstasy? While I can't answer the first part, I can say that the Ecstasy is an extremely fine ship and was as clean and polished as the much newer Carnival Victory that we sailed on a few months ago. This trip was Heather and I's "test" to see if we "really liked cruising" and I have to say that the Ecstasy and her staff passed with flying colors - Heather and I even executed our "future cruise" deposit, so now we are committed to sailing again!

This cruise wasn't fancy, wasn't long, and wasn't expensive. It was however a perfect post holiday romantic retreat.

On my recent cruise on the Carnival Victory, one of my favorite stops was visiting the island of Barbados and the opportunity to check out the fantastic Turtle Beach Resort. 

One of the tricky things about finding a good resort is finding a good balance between great staff, activities, and amenities. I have to say that I was super impressed by the island of Barbados, and I would recommend Turtle Beach Resort for a great mancation - or for our UK readers, a Lads Holiday! (Barbados is apparently very popular with UK vacationers and has regularly scheduled direct flights from London).

Just a couple hours east of Chicago and almost the same distance from Detroit lies a wonder area just waiting for couples planning a romantic weekend. South West Michigan is a destination that continues to impress both Heather and I. Initially, it was the wine trail and the beach that drew us, but now we have grown to love exploring the little coastal towns like Saugatuck, Douglas, and St. Joseph.

Fresh back from a stay at Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, I have mixed reviews. The Preferred Club has all the foundations for a wonderful, romantic get-away, but the newly opened resort is still a bit rough.

Our first impression was WOW! My husband and I were greeted immediately from our taxi with warm hospitality. We were whisked away from the main entrance via golf-cart to registration, offered a glass of bubbly and a cold towel to refresh ourselves. By the time we were led to our swim-out Jr. suite, we really felt like VIPs.

Last month, Heather and I had a chance to visit Haywood County, NC and stayed at Boyd Mountain Cabins. For those of you who have never heard of Haywood County, it is located in North Carolina's Smoky Mountains, just off of I-40 and only a few hours from all the major cities of the South East. It is also a very easy drive from most places in the Midwest. The collection of seven different cabins plucked from locations all over North Carolina, have been restored, refined, and brought up to date will all the modern conveniences you would expect for a romantic weekend together - including a full kitchen, heat and central air, comfortable beds, rocking chairs on the porches and more.

This isn't a "luxury cabin rental", but it had everything we were looking for. If you are looking to get away from it all by relaxing in the middle of North Carolina's Smoky Mountains, there aren't many better ways to do it!