Talk about hot topics. We asked America’s military spouses to tell us what truly makes a romantic vacation and the responses flooded into our mailbox. Through interviews, Facebook comments and online messages, readers suggested trips to everywhere from Germany and Ireland to New Orleans and Catalina Island to Bora Bora-even the Badlands of South Dakota.

Among the favorites we heard about? Cool cruises on dreamy blue waters, sun-drenched island getaways and urban adventures on America’s most exciting streets.

“Having two kids, we have no clue what a romantic vacation destination is,” jokes military spouse Jami Van Brocklin. “However, if we were given the chance to be childless and go to a romantic destination, it would definitely be Paris, France; Milan, Italy; or Jamaica!”

For milspouse Michelle Pippin, “Savannah, Georgia, is my favorite romantic vacation destination. There’s a lot to choose from: beaches, scary moonlit ghost walks, carriage rides, fine dining, and Southern charm everywhere. Taking time to get away and ‘date’ my soldier makes any trip romantic. Simple handholding, quiet time together-that’s romance for me.”

Some spouses told us their dream vacation is an adventure across the Atlantic: Melissa Ann Wesley and her husband haven’t taken a honeymoon yet. But their “dream is to go to Ireland. Stay at an old fashion bed and breakfast. Tour the countryside. Not the tourist areas, but the small
towns and villages.”

Many readers said a truly romantic trip isn’t really about the destination: It’s simply anywhere they’re alone with their service member (without kids!) having time to focus on each other. Katy Preston McDonald tells us “it doesn’t matter where we go or what we do as long as those baby blues are all on me. It’s his attention and time that makes it truly romantic to me.”

On these pages we bring you creative vacation ideas from your sister spouses, plus personal comments from our readers and expert fashion ideas for filling your suitcases. So pack your bags and come along with us to paradise…


Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas:
We know-the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island has a reputation for being utterly fabulous, and also very expensive. But to honor your service, Atlantis offers a fabulous welcome to current and former military personnel. Rates start as low as $59/per person/per night! Picture a breathtaking open-air marine habitat, 141-acre waterpark (where you can swim with sharks… safely!) and a casino, sparkling pools, white-sand beaches and more.

Travel Tip: The tiny islands of the Bahamas are just a short flight from South Florida. If your schedule (and budget) permit, why not tack on one night in fabulous Miami to your romantic vacation?

Sandals ResortDo you want to … relax on the beach?
For many of us, a tropical island is the first thing we think of when we dream about a romantic honeymoon. “If we were to get a romantic vacation together, it would probably be a nice secluded beach somewhere, where we can spend time alone together and enjoy each other without worry about work or deployments or anything else,” says military spouse
Amber Allen.

For the scoop on amazing-and affordable-tropical vacation, we talked with Marsha Ann Brown, director of romance (how’s that for a title!) at Sandals Resorts. We asked: What are some of the most affordable Sandals Resorts destinations?

Jamaica and Nassau, Bahamas are among the least expensive and most popular, she told us. But this year you can save money at all Sandals locations: “Guests can continually save up to 65% for 2013 travel, and airfare credits, free nights and other specials are offered often.”

Absolutely everything (luxury room, gourmet dining and premium beverages, water and land sports, nightly entertainment and more) is included.

Why we love it: Sandals Negril in Jamaica has “swim-up suites” where you can literally reach your room directly from a glistening swimming pool! Rooms are decorated with glass mosaic tiles and designer fixtures.

Special offers for military couples? You’ll receive an additional 10% off current promotions for all Sandals Luxury- Included® vacation packages. (Available for all active and inactive military, including Reserves, National Guard, Veterans and Department of Defense. Proof of
Military identification or discharge certificate is required upon check-in at the resort. For more information, visit www.sandals.com/military.


Explore the Highlands
Milspouse April McPherson Holtmeyer fell in love with the misty highlands of Scotland on a trip with her sweetheart: “Flew to Scotland for a Port Call visit! It was the most romantic two and a half days ever,” she told us. “The duty van dropped him off, it was pouring down cold rain. our eyes met on opposite sides of a cross walk. The hello kiss set the tone.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast and toured Edinburgh and Stirling Castle. We had six years of vacations before we had kids, so the novelty of him having liberty from the boat, being in another country and child-free added to the romantic feel.”

Travel Tip: Fly into Edinburgh, stay a few days, then take a short train ride north to the charming, unpretentious city of Glasgow. From there, catch a tour bus to Stirling Castle, where costumed actors reenact history in the very rooms where kings and queens once stood.

Princess CruiseDo you want to … cruise the ocean blue?
We heard you, milspouses Kerri Bell, Karina Figueroa and Marsha LeDawn Painter. You and so many others told us that cruising is the way to celebrate your love in style. Military spouse Rebecca Yarros agrees: “We couldn’t have a honeymoon, so for our 10- year anniversary this year, we went on a Mediterranean cruise without the kids! The time alone was truly wonderful and romantic to reconnect between deployments, and when we renewed our vows on a sailboat off the shores of Capri on our anniversary. It melted me all over again. It’s wonderful to cross the items off our bucket list together.”

Milspouse Nancy Merkle has similar plans for the coming year. Her destination? “Hawaii. We are going on a cruise to the islands for a combo-celebration of his retirement from the service and our 30th anniversary. I cannot wait.”

What’s the ultimate way to cruise? If you remember the ’80s, then you know: Sail aboard the Love Boat. We caught up with Princess Cruises and discovered that they’re celebrating military families in 2013 by offering fabulous deals and supporting veterans…

What’s new at Princess? In 2013, the Caribbean Princess ship will set sail for the very first time out of Bayport Cruise Terminal near Houston, Texas–meaning military vacationers stationed in Texas won’t have to fly elsewhere in the country to catch a Princess cruise. And funds raised by the very first voyage, planned for early November, will be donated to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Operation Homefront.

Why we love it: Caribbean Princess offers Movies Under the Stars, a giant poolside movie theater featuring first-run movies, concerts and sporting events. Other onboard treats include a variety of street performing acts in the Italian-inspired Piazza, massages in an outdoor cabana and premium steaks cooked to order in the Crown Grill.

Special offers for military couples? Princess Cruises offers up to $250 free onboard spending money for all military personnel, eligible on any cruise, any time of the year. Use it for anything from spa treatments and specialty dining to clothing in onboard boutiques and shore excursions.

For more great content, check out a subscription to Military Spouse magazine. https://subscribe.milspouse.com/subscribe/default.aspx

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