In December 2010 a Swedish couple named Stefan and Erika Svanstrom endured several natural disasters while away on their honeymoon. They kicked off their trip during a vicious snowstorm in Munich, Germany before journeying to Bali in the midst of a monsoon. Next they visited Australia, where they suffered through bush fires in Perth, floods in Brisbane and a category 5 cyclone in Cairns. They evacuated and flew to Christchurch, New Zealand just in time for an earthquake. And the big finish was Tokyo, Japan, where there was another earthquake, followed by a tsunami. The Svanstroms eventually made it back safely to Stockholm in one piece, and still in love.
Accidents occur and misadventure happens. Even a well-planned vacation in paradise can experience a few hiccups, Svanstrom-style. This is all the more reason why a soon-to-honeymoon couple should plan on taking their post-nuptial trip in the most idyllic, romantic and heavenly destination they can afford. Can you imagine encountering the unexpected on what was already the vacation from hell?
So that you and your spouse don't end up in "divorce court," take a look at our finalists for the crummiest honeymoon locales across the globe. Determine for yourself whether you should avoid them altogether or add them to your list of vacation options.
Disney's Fairy Tale Honeymoons website offers trip ideas and booking information to facilitate planning a Disney-esque honeymoon at one of its theme parks, in one of its resorts or on one of its cruise lines. And while one of the highlighted options -- the Walt Disney World resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. -- might seem like it only offers family-focused fun, there are plenty of honeymooners who visit hoping to discover the magic as a family of two. But perhaps these valentines aren't considering just how many sugared-up kids and stressed-out parents they'll encounter while waiting in one of the theme park's infamously long attraction lines.
Should You Avoid It? Maybe not. Having a Disney honeymoon might seem unconventional, but it could also be a lot of fun. The resort has some exquisite golf courses for putting, a lovely boardwalk for strolling and the lively Downtown Disney area for shopping and dining. Visit between January and April, when there are fewer school-age children and better travel discounts. Also consider booking a hotel with sophisticated amenities -- that way you're bound to see more adults milling about than children. For example, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa hosts an afternoon tea. And the Waldorf Astoria Orlando's claim to fame is its Rees Jones-designed championship golf course.
It's easy to understand how Niagara Falls began beckoning honeymooners. The crescendoing waterfalls are awe-inspiring, as is the ability to country-hop -- seeing as the water torrents downward in both the United States' New York and Canada's Ontario. Supposedly, the area became popular in the 19th century when the daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr, Theodosia, chose it for her honeymoon. What's not easy to comprehend, however, is just how contemporary Niagara continues to woo newlyweds. Visit now and you'll be inundated with kitsch -- there are quickie wedding chapels overlooking the falls and hotels on either side of the border that have vibrating beds and heart-shaped tubs. The overall garishness probably won't serve as the aphrodisiac you and your sweetheart had intended.
Should You Avoid It? Don't completely write this one off. Do some parts of Niagara Falls seem tacky to the extreme? Yes. But the self-proclaimed "honeymoon capital of the world" also has excellent hiking trails and splendid botanical gardens, plus there is an ice wine vineyard, Inniskillin Winery, within driving distance. Consider making the trip for a long, romantic weekend but not for your full-fledged honeymoon.
Greece has lured many a honeymooner with turquoise skies, gentle Mediterranean breezes, and whitewashed buildings. Or specifically, Mykonos and Santorini have lured honeymooners with these traits. A few misguided couples might have visited the capital city of Athens, thinking that all of Greece holds the same allures as its isles. Instead, many have found sweltering heat in a landlocked city. And that Mediterranean breeze is mixed with Athenian dust and dirt, sprinkling your sweat-drenched face as you're sequestered in an impossibly long line, waiting to see the Parthenon or the ancient city's other best-known sights.
Should You Avoid It? Some travelers might not mind the cattle-call feel of standing on line to see one historic sight after another. But if you're interested in Greece's sensitive, romantic side, your best bet is to stick to the abovementioned islands. And if you're looking for a nice mix of beach and antiquity, consider vacationing in Crete.
In Las Vegas you can have Elvis quickly officiate your wedding, and you can have a stripper help you potentially wreck your marriage -- but the verdict is still out on whether it's a fitting place to start your marriage. Lots of newlyweds do head to Sin City after tying the knot, greeted by the sound of clanging slot machines, the smell of smoky casinos, and the risqué atmosphere found in the anything-goes nightclubs and live shows. And speaking of "show" -- Nevada is the only U.S. state that permits some forms of legal prostitution. So forget about a candlelight dinner -- instead, you can butter up your beloved with a trip to a nearby brothel.
Should You Avoid It? It depends. Some couples like to "gamble" together -- whatever that might entail. In addition to hitting the tables, the Las Vegas' tourism website recommends honeymooners try the couples' treatments at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the gondola rides at the Venetian Casino and Grand Canal and even taking excursions to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. Witnessing the spectacle of the Bellagio Fountains can also be romantic, particularly in the evening.
Did you know that President John F. Kennedy took his new wife Jacqueline to Acapulco on their honeymoon? This was in 1953, when the southwest Mexico beach town was the au courent vacation for the rich, famous and fashionable. But time hasn't been kind to Acapulco, and nearly 60 years later the city has been tagged a washed-up watering hole that is plagued by crime and neglect. Although the U.S. State Department does note that most of Mexico's drug-related violence is directed toward locals, Acapulco's atmosphere may still be unpleasant for tourists. For example, the resort town rung in January 2011 with a grisly report that 28 dead bodies (15 of them without heads) were found outside an area shopping mall.
Should You Avoid It? You should probably steer clear of this "Pearl of the Pacific." It's true that violence could happen anywhere, and the city does have sumptuous accommodations -- the Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués or the Camino Real Acapulco Diamante, to name two. But we did mention those 15 decapitated people, right? Avoid the hassle and do as many other 21st-century lovebirds do: fly to Puerto Vallarta, for a beach honeymoon in Mexico.
Another West Wing couple -- this time former President Bill Clinton and his wife, the current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton -- took their honeymoon in Haiti in 1975. When they arrived, they found a charming island nation with the same to-die-for weather found throughout the Caribbean. But they also experienced a Haiti that has long wrestled with abject poverty and government strife. The nation still struggles as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but it now suffers additional woes as it attempts to rebuild following a calamitous earthquake in January 2010. The U.S. State Department warns those on a Haitian honeymoon to be extremely vigilant, particularly when traveling around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Its infrastructure is still in shaky condition, and recent travelers have been the victims of robberies, kidnapping and even murder.
Should You Avoid It? If you're looking to have a voluntourism-type honeymoon, then Haiti is one of the worthiest destinations to visit. Otherwise you'll want to stay away. For the archetypical Caribbean escape, visit the Dominican Republic and specifically the tourist-centric town of Punta Cana.
Imagine snuggling with your honey in a palace suite, surrounded by lavish furnishings, stunning waterfront views and a legendary setting: the purported spot where the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon once bloomed. There are just a few catches. This honeymoon would take place in war-ravaged Iraq, in the central city of Al Hillah. The palace in question used to belong to Saddam Hussein. And your opulent suite overlooking the Euphrates River is where the executed Iraqi president used to sleep. It's difficult to find conclusive information on how to book a night at this converted hotel, but old reports advertise the honeymoon suite at between $180 and $220 USD a night. On the other hand, we have a feeling that slumbering in Saddam's boudoir won't do much to put young couples in the mood.
Should You Avoid It? We probably don't have to twist your arm to avoid vacationing in Al Hillah, Iraq. The U.S. State Department strongly warns civilians against traveling to the region due to ongoing security concerns and violent situations. And the area right outside the palace leading toward Baghdad is colloquially known as the "Triangle of Death."
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