Mary Gillingham, DS
Interests & Specialties
Mary Gillingham has been with Central Travel for 20 years and has traveled extensively.
She is a Destination Specialist for Hawaii and has visited the Islands several times. Mary is also an O'ahu Destination Master Specialist (ODS) and has been involved with the O'ahu Visitors Bureau (OVB) since 2002.
As a Universal Orlando Specialist, she has visited the parks at least once a year for the last 18 years and has traveled with friends, children, and grandchildren. She has enjoyed staying at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and the Hard Rock Hotel over the years. She is looking forward to the opening of the NEW Cabana Bay Beach Resort next year. Each property is unique and has a different atmosphere; ask me which property is best for you.
Mary is located in the Promenade Shops office on Monroe Street in Sylvania, OH.
I love Universal Orlando because there is something for everyone to enjoy. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is unique and fun for everyone who would like to visit Hogwarts castle and visit the shops at Hogsmeade. Suess landing and Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone are great areas for younger children and young at heart! The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is fun for teenagers because they can pick the music they want to listen to as they ride the coaster!
The Incredible Hulk Coaster is fun for teenagers and adults. I especially enjoy going in October for the Halloween Horror Nights. I really look forward to this experience every year. It is always different so you never know what to expect as you walk through the parks at night! This is an intense experience and not recommended for children under the age of 13. I recommend Universal Studios Orlando vacation for people of all ages since they offer something for everyone.
Mary holds a Destination Specialist designation (DS) for the Caribbean and has experienced the All Inclusive Vacations in Jamaica, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cabo San Lucas, and the Bahamas. She has completed Disney's College of Knowledge program and loves to help families plan their “Magical Moments” at Disney.
Mary enjoys cruising and holds the Commodore status with Princess Cruise Lines and is a Royal Caribbean WOW expert. She has sailed on the Royal Caribbean ship Adventure of the Seas visiting the islands of Cozumel, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. She loves to sail with family and friends! She has also experienced traveling through Italy with Crystal Cruises and Northern Europe with Azamara Club Cruises. While sailing on the Crystal Symphony Mary visited Portofino, Monte Carlo, Livorno, and Sorrento. What a Great way to visit Italy! Pompei and the Isle of Capri were her favorites.
Mary also holds a Destination Specialist designation (DS) for Alaska and this is one of her favorite destinations. She loved the Denali adventure, white water rafting, and the wildlife tundra tour! Florida’s Universal Studios is another domestic destination Mary enjoys with family and friends. She has stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel and the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal.
Other domestic adventures include New York, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, The Grand Canyon, and Coco Beach. In Canada, Toronto is a favorite and she has visited this fun city several times via rail. She has stayed at the Royal York and the Toronto Sheraton and can recommend the best shopping and dining the city has to offer!
AmaWaterways is a very active river cruise. At almost every port there was an option of a walking tour or a bicycle tour. The walking tours were also divided into 3 categories, gentle walkers, average walkers, and fast walkers. Some of the days there was also an option of a hiking tour. Some of the hiking tours were more strenuous than others.
This was a wine cruise itinerary so there were several wine lectures and well as wine tasting on the ship. Also, several tour options with wine tasting included. The food on the cruise was excellent as well as the wine options for lunch and dinner. The crew was wonderful and very attentive to the needs of each passenger. We were given Quite Voxes in our stateroom and they were very helpful. We picked up your color for the tour then left the ship. This made the disembarkation process for all the tours very easy.
I stayed two days in Budapest after the cruise at the Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel. This hotel was in an excellent location. The room was very spacious and the security at the hotel was great. You needed your room key to access the elevator. The Christmas Market and restaurants were within walking distance. The bus stop was very close so we were able to travel all over the city. I felt very safe walking and taking the bus all over Budapest. The people were very friendly and most of them spoke English so there was not a language barrier.
I would recommend AmaWaterway to everyone. I believe active people would appreciate the bicycle tours and the hikes offered. The walking tours are great for everyone because of the activity levels offered. I believe the ages of the passengers on the cruise were from 40 to 70. Everyone was enjoying the experience on the cruise!
More Adventures from Mary Gillingham, DS ...
Avalon was a wonderful experience in 2016 on a European Splendor sailing! I traveled from Amsterdam to Vienna on the Avalon Passion. This is the first time I have been on a River Cruise and it was an amazing experience! River Cruising is so much different than an Ocean Cruise. The River Cruise is much more relaxing and less stressful.
The Passion is one of the newest Ships in the Avalon fleet built this year 2016. We had just over 100 people (almost full capacity) on the ship but it did not feel crowded at any time.
Dining was a pure delight and the Panorama Lounge was great fun. Avalon has bikes on board so you can enjoy the various ports of your own if you would like. Avalon's included shore excursions was quite nice as well. I would recommend this cruise to everyone. The ages on our ship ranged from 19 to 80 and everyone had a great time!
In 2015 I traveled with Voyages to Antiquity. This is a very unique cruise line because it offers an opportunity to explore the history and culture of the different ports. And this is what they do and do it well. I think this would be a great cruise for History Buffs, Professors, Teachers, or anyone who is interested in History and Culture. I would love to go on this type of cruise again even though I am not a history buff.
Their philosophy is to create an experience that fulfills our passion for History, Cultures, and Natural wonders of the ancient world. An experience which unites the immeasurable benefits of small-ship cruising with enriching, destination-immersive itineraries designed to connect travelers with the fascinating chronicles of the past. I joined the cruise in Athens and cruised to Venice with pre and post hotel stays.
The ship is designed for passengers to mix and mingle so single people will be very comfortable on this ship sailing alone. I met two single passengers the first night a dinner. When you meet someone at dinner you will also be chatting with them the entire time you are on the ship!
Some of the unique aspects of Voyages to Antiquity:
- With all Voyages to Antiquity cruise your pre and post hotel s are included in your cruise package. The hotels are 4 or 5 star.
- Your shore excursions are included. Sometimes you will have a choice of two different ones.
- Open-seating dining in your choice of locations including the Marco Polo Restaurant or the Terrace Café.
- Wine is included with dinner every night.
- Gratuities are included.
- Many overnight ports of call.
- Very relaxed atmosphere, resort casual attire, no need to dress up
- Expert guest lecturer on board each cruise
In 2015 I traveled to Cancun and the Riviera Maya where I visited 20 properties! Cancun has changed quite a bit since I was there last. There are many restaurants to choose from including an Outback Steakhouse and Ruth Chris Steakhouse! There are two malls to choose from for the shopping trip. The mall I chose to shop in was called La Isla Shopping Village. Wow! The mall itself was amazing. You could choose from many high-end stores like Louis Vinton and Cartier or just the small shop that sells things like tee shirts, sombreros, and of course tequila!
The Barceló Maya Beach was our host hotel for the first night. The 5-star Barceló Maya Beach Hotel is located within an incredible all-inclusive resort on one of the most gorgeous beaches in the Mexican Caribbean. It stretches 1.2 miles where you will find white sand, crystal clear waters, and a coral reef. The hotel has recently been renovated and the new clubhouse features a stunning design. I would be happy to share details on everything I experienced to assure you have the right resort for your next vacation!
In 2012 I experienced a fantastic cruise with Azamara Club Cruises. The Ship was the Journey. My adventure started in Stockholm Sweden with an overnight stay on the ship. I then sailed to Helsinki Finland, St Petersburg Russia again with an overnight stay on the ship, Tallinn Estonia, Visby Sweden, and Copenhagen Denmark with a two-night stay on the ship. What a Wonderful experience! These ports of call have been on my bucket list for a long time. What a better way to see these places than on the amazing Azamara Journey. Most of the ports of call everyone spoke English so there was not a language barrier. This itinerary has so much history and culture.
Some Facts about the ship:
• The ship has a casual atmosphere – resort casual was the dress code, no formal nights.
• The Ship’s crew was very friendly and always available to you if needed anything.
• With several dining options to choose from you are able to dine at your leisure, the food was wonderful.
• Complimentary Boutique Wine is served with lunch and dinner.
• Complimentary bottled water, soft drinks and specialty coffees and teas
• Gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff are included (no tipping)
• Complimentary self-serve laundry
There was always something going on while we were sailing from one port to another. You are able to choose from lectures about the history of the area, try your luck at the casino, relax in the Spa or party in the Looking Glass Lounge in the evening. I liked the fact that I was able to relax on the ship as I traveled to my next port for my next adventure.
St. Petersburg Russia was one of my favorite ports of call. I have always wanted to visit this historical city. The city was founded by Emperor Peter the Great on May 27, 1703, and was the capital of the Russian Empire for over 200 years. The city ceased being the capital in 1918 after the Russian Revolution of 1917. St. Petersburg Russia is an important maritime center for Russia. The city is built on a network of islands, featuring 65 rivers and canals that crisscross the city. Along with about 400 bridges, the city closely resembles Venice Italy and Amsterdam. Some of the most interesting and historical sights are Peter and Paul Fortress, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Winter Palace, and the Hermitage. Since I was there for 2 days, I was able to see all of them and much more. I also was able to take a canal cruise throughout the city. I would recommend Azamara Club Cruises to anyone!
While in Hawaii I have experienced the True meaning of the Aloha Spirit. I have experienced Dolphin Adventures at both Sea Life Park and in the Ocean with Wild Side. I have taken cooking lessons with some of the best chefs in Hawaii.
And of course, there is always time for the peace of just relaxing on the beach at sunset watching the waves roll in and out. A highlight for me is visiting the parks and seeing the natural beauty Hawaii has to offer. Of course, a Helicopter ride is also fun and relaxing!
In my various Hawaii trips, I have first-hand experience staying in the following resorts:
- Hilton Hawaiian Village … great for families
- Outrigger Reef on the Beach … you can renew your vows here
- Royal Hawaiian... WOW
- Waikiki Beach Marriott
- Waikiki Park hotel
- Hyatt Regency Maui
- Westin Maui
- Sheraton Maui
- Kaui Marriott Resort
- Sheraton Kaui
- Hilton Waikoloa Village
- The Fairmont Orchard
- Waikoloa Beach Marriott
One of my favorites was a wonderful cruise on board the Crystal Symphony visiting the Italian Treasures!
When I think of Crystal Cruise lines I think of Service. The service was remarkable – the best I have ever experienced on a cruise. From the time we stepped on board until we departed for home we were treated as if we were the most important people on board!
We visited Portofino, Monte Carlo, Livorno and the lovely town of Sorrento. I chose the tour the Excavations of Pompeii while in this port. This is a vast and active archaeological site. I would recommend that when your clients go to Pompeii to go with a guide. The local guide we had pointed out so many things that I would have missed had I just gone on my own. I really enjoyed this excursion. The fact that you are able to walk and see a city that is over 1,700 years old is amazing to me.
This is a perfect sailing for family groups. I spoke with many people who were traveling with 10-15 family members. There was even group on Mothers & Daughters - how perfect!
The Crystal Symphony is 20 years old but is in great shape for her age. During her latest refit, Crystal Symphony underwent a $25 million makeover that included new pool deck furniture; a reworked Lido restaurant with service islands replacing the buffet; newly designed specialty restaurants; upgraded penthouse accommodations; a new Trident Lounge where the Neptune Pool was formerly located; an enormous Jacuzzi at the main pool; Swarovski Crystal chandeliers; and cashmere throws. The cabins were spacious and nicely decorated with neutral colors. This ship has only outside cabins which is the way cruising should be done!