Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We just want to wish our clients, prospective clients, agent friends and anyone who might read this a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to go on cruise vacations should also keep in mind that many can't for various reasons. So if you see someone who could use a smile today (or any day for that matter), be thankful that you just might be able to make someone's day better by saying hello and giving them a smile. They'll feel good and so will you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cruise Lines Imposing a Fuel Surcharge

Did you know that cruise ships travel less than one-half mile on a gallon of fuel? And we think we have “pain at the pump!”

A typical 7-night cruise consumes between 50,000 to 70,000 gallons of fuel, if not more. With the rise in fuel costs and the unrest in the oil industry, the value of the dollar etc., the cruise lines have had no choice but to impose a fuel surcharge for sailings – both new bookings and for people already booked. The surcharge they have implemented covers about one-third of their rise in cost which they have been absorbing for many months now.

Although it will vary by cruise line, $5 per person per day ($35 per person for a 7 night cruise) seems to be the standard. This surcharge only applies to the 1st and 2nd passengers in the cabin - not the 3rd, 4th, or 5th. This charge is beyond our control as an agent so please don't shoot the messenger.

And, for most things we purchase that must be moved by rail, train, or air, prices have and will continue to rise. At least with a surcharge, it can be discontinued when fuel prices stabilize (at least we hope they will.) Even with this small additional cost, a cruise vacation is still the best value for a vacation.

"I'll play Bingo one less time and save that $20-30 to offset it" is what one client told me the other day. Now that's a plan.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Family Reunions and Cruising

Why might considering a cruise for your next family reunion be worthwhile? This was asked by a prospective new client over the weekend. My answer was simply "It's the best and only way I know to accommodate ALL members of a family!

Let's compare a cruise to a land based resort. Most resorts are either budget or luxury. Normally, it's the person (we call them the "pied piper" for the group) who is organizing and promoting this to the family members who chooses the place. They will most often choose something that fits their lifestyle - if they are used to luxury living, they will choose a luxury resort. Needless to say, they can afford that place (well, maybe or maybe they just want others to think they can) but not everyone in the family can afford it or is going to be comfortable in that type environment. The younger or less affluent don't want to say they can't afford so they spend more than they should (ego? or embarrassment not to go?).

If it's a pied piper who is younger, less affluent or used to more budget vacation, they will choose accordingly and then the older or those who are used to more luxury are not going (it would be beneath them to stay at the abc motel instead of a 4 Seasons for example).

So how do you find something that everyone can be comfortable with and can afford to attend? A cruise is the perfect solution! Every ship and cruise line (unless you choose the more luxury cruise lines) will have budget and luxury accommodations on the same ship. There are inexpensive interior cabins to Penthouse suites with butlers and private Jacuzzis to choose from and priced accordingly. Everyone can afford to go on the cruise.

There are so many things to do that there really is something for everyone of all ages. From the kids programs for the various age groups, trivia games, pools, spas, sports (two ships even have bowling alleys on them now), entertainment of all varieties, food from buffets or hot dogs/hamburgers to luxury gourmet dining. People can choose to eat together or not as they wish (most family reunions do try to have the dinner meal together in the main dining room (s).

For those with out the higher incomes, this dining is included in the price of a cruise so they can be comfortable eating things they may never have tried before - appetizers, cold soups, salads and many choices of entrees plus the wonderful desserts. (yum-yum, my downfall personally).

Then think about it. You go to a resort and it is one place the entire time. They have a great golf course but many in the family don't play golf for example (or you don't want them plying with you.) On a cruise, you can go to 3, 4,even 5 different places/islands during the 7 night cruise. Your hotel travels with you and you only unpack once. In each port there are many choices of things to do and again, there is something that is affordable or more exotic as one choices depending on their lifestyle. Play golf, go sightseeing by air, go to a beach, tour historical places, get a feel for another culture (definitely worthwhile for the younger folks), go shopping or guess what, even stay on board an read a book and relax.

Cruising is about choice and choices and yet, is affordable for everyone - young, old, rich or poor. The family gets together and everyone is comfortable and has a great time. So the next time you are going to be the pied piper for the family, think it trying this. Once you do, it will quite possibly become the families reunion vacation of choice.