Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Special First Time Cruisers con't

There is not much else to say about my brother and sister-in-laws first cruise experience if you read their comments to the previous posting. They had a blast! I did get to talk with them last night and once again, we receive the one benefit that is really "neat" about being a cruise specialist.

Even with approximately 50 cruises now (long and short)under out belt, we do still think about our first cruise experience in Dec 1997 on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. It was an incredible experience and I remember waking up on Monday morning (cruise started on Sun) and Helen and I saying "Oh, we will do this again!"

Little did we know we would become cruise specialists 4 years and 9 cruises later. So what is the benefit? It's reliving our first cruise experience through other peoples eyes after their first cruise. And we get to do this every time we book a "first timer" when they get home. This is why we really do love working with people in helping them plan and experience what we have come to love.

One of Don's comments was they were thinking Mon morning while waiting to disembark was "I wonder if we could get a cabin and stay onboard?" They told me something last night that I hadn't heard before and I had to chuckle. This says it all - they had decided to take their own luggage off the ship which would entitle them to get off earliest. But they had number 14 for disembarkation and tried to change with someone who had number 24. they just did not want to leave.

So welcome home bro and we are glad you now understand why we love cruising.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Special First Time Cruisers

Although we love first time cruisers, why would this one be special? Simply because it is my brother and sister-in-law!

We did our first cruise 12 years ago next month and always enjoy re-living that experience through the eyes of those we book on their first cruise. We have been in the business of professional cruise specialists for 8 years now. Yesterday, my bro and sister-in-law, who have heard us talk about our wonderful experiences, embarked on a ship - the Carnival Elation - for their first cruise experience.

They have been on the water in small (48-80 foot boats) so that part was not new. But Gloria's comment when we talked to them a few hours after they boarded, had lunch, explored the ship, etc., was "This is HUGE!" We laughed because at only 70,000 GT we consider this a small ship these days.

Gloria had set this up as a special birthday present for Don's 60th and since he is the one who is always creating surprises for others, when they sprung this trip on him (at a surprise party in Sept, too I might add), he was surprised. He hadn't thought too much about it until they arrived at the port in San Diego yesterday but once on board, he did realize "this is going to be a very relaxing and fun weekend." I will continue this one when we speak on Monday after they get back.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Oasis of the Seas has arrived in FLL

This is one shot taken from a helicopter as the Oasis of the Seas entered her new home in Port Everglades (Ft. lauderdale, FL.). I have some very nice friends and one sent this to me short time ago.

It was a spectalur sight to behold as this beautiful ship arrived with her floating floatilla and is she HUGE!!!!!

Here are some more great photos of the Oasis on the website of the local paper the Sun Sentinel

Arrival of Oasis of the Seas

It has been one of the most anticipated days in modern cruising history but in just a few hours, Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, the incredible 220,000 GT ship with seven neighborhoods will be arriving in Ft. Lauderdale at Port Everglades, Florida - it's homeport.

We're up early today to go over to the port area to watch it's arrival and will have some pictures that we will try to post later.

I also want to point out that Carnival's newest ship, the Dream, is arriving in New York City as I write this (or will be shortly) and will have it's christening later this afternoon. This is another wonderful ship and reports we have gotten back from clients who have made the trip across the Atlantic on her is simply "Beyond fabulous!" This is the ship the client I last wrote about who had to cancel at the last minute due to the broken ankle was suppossed to have sailed on. Her friends were sending her e-mails durinig the trip. Mrs. S is doing well by the way and is looking forward to planning her next cruise in the months ahead.

Hopefully, I will have some pictures to post next of the Oasis arriving. There will be a special broadcast on Good Morning America on Nov 20 from the ship.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Once again - travel protection saves the day

Many people decide not to take the travel protection (cancellation and medical insurance) to protect the investment they make for their long awaited and deserved I might add vacation. "I've never needed it before" is something I have heard many times over the 8 years working as a cruise specialist.

But things happen! Just this week (Sunday night to be exact), I received a call from a client scheduled to fly to Rome on Monday at 5:30 PM to get on the new Carnival Dream for a Med and transatlantic cruise to NY. Sunday morning the wife is walking down the steps, falls, and breaks her ankle severely. Severe enough that she was admitted to the hospital and was scheduled for surgery at 5 PM Monday - when she should have been boarding the plane to Rome.

Did she plan to break her ankle? Especially one day before leaving for this cruise! These folks do not normally take the travel insurance but did in this case. As their agent, I was sure glad they did since they were in 100% cancellation penalty and without this protection, there was nothing I could do.

But, because they had taken our travel protection, I was able to cancel the cruise for them with one call, and start the claim with another.

I digress, but this is another reason for working with a professional travel agent who is paid by the cruise line but works for the client. The cruise line would simply have told them to contact the insurance company themselves. That would work fine but these people have "enough on their plate" right now with everything else. And they had pre-paid for excursions (over $700 worth) which had to be cancelled more than 72 hours prior to the start of the cruise and they were less than 48 hours away so the only other option was to cancel on board the ship at the shore excursion desk. Needless to say, that was not possible. Would the cruise line tell them how to cancel these tours and get their money back? I have no idea but I would guess that unless the person asked, they would not have.

But I did ask and it took sending an e-mail to the proper department. As a footnote and a compliment to Carnival cruise line, my e-mail was read at 8:13 AM and answered at 8:19 AM and the clients are receiving a full refund on the tours.

Back to the main topic. The $230 cost of the travel protection will get them a 100% refund of the over $3000 spent for this trip (less the 230 of course.)

I will concede that of the millions of travelers on cruises, most do not have to cancel. But when you are the one who does, it is a sure nice to know you are protected! I learned the hard way years ago before becoming an agent. It hurt then as it cost me over $3400 penalty with the cruise plus related expenses and it was my Dad, not me who had the problem. With the travel protection though, I would have been covered - immediate family and travel companion.

A side note. There was another client traveling with this client and if they decided to cancel (they didn't and actually should be on the ship as I write this) they would also have been covered since they would be classified as traveling companion.

My advice is simply this: you should never just say "No, I don't need travel protection" but think about it number one, and make sure the policy offerred is worthwhile number two. Many companies who offer "FREE" insurance, have policies with very limited benefits. "FREE" is not always the cheapest.

You have home insurance, car insurance etc. and don't really want to have a situation where you need to file a claim. But you have the insurance just in case. When you travel and especially purchase a cruise, this extra few dollars may be the best investment you make.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We're back - for real this time!

It's been a crazy 2 months with several cruises, driving trips (yes, we've even done things on land) and some cruises but now we are back and settled in once again for a long while before any more extended trips away.

So much happening in the cruise world right now with the long anticipated arrival of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. We plan to get to the Port Everglades area (actually the park accross from the port) early in the morning to be there for the arrival of this totally unique 220,000 GT vessell.

With a good location planned, we should be able to get some interesting pictures of her arrival. Unfortunately, at least at this time, we have not gotten an invitation to do a ship tour but I am still working on that.

Next year, NCL has a new build - the Epic - which we will be sailing on for our National Conference in Oct 2010. That should be a blast. We did just return from our 2009 conference on the Carnival Pride last week.

That also included driving from FL to Baltimore and back (well part way up since we took the AutoTrain up). Prior to that was a trip to TX for a granddaughters wedding celebration and visiting the kids, grandkids and yes, even a couple of great grandkids (we're not that old but we have them).

But it's back to work now. One new addition to our provided cruise specialty service is the addition of some preferred land suppliers for those clients who are looking for tours, resorts, etc. More to come on this as we begin learning more about land based vacations.

That's it for tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saving a few bucks can be expensive

There is nothing wrong with trying to get the best price possible when booking a cruise. When our clients call, we will ask questions to find out all they may be entitled to with available promotions- Sr., resident, regional, past passenger etc. Carnival offers a special promotion called Early Saver (anyone eligible for this depending on how far out they are reserving) and some other lines are starting to come up with variations of this also. BUT, is it really worth saving those few dollars?

This special promotion is very restrictive and the most damaging is your deposit is non-refunable if you have to cancel, even before the final is due which otherwise would be 100% refundable. So how does it become expensive?

One of our clients has booked several cabins under this Early Saver deal earlier this year for a December sailing for herself and the daughters. They saved $40 per person or a total of $160 on two cabins (each cabin was a daughter and her boyfriend) and the deposit was $250 per person ($500 per cabin). Well, Mom paid the deposits for each cabin (total $1000) and now the girls have "dumped their boyfriends" and if we cancel the boys, that is $500 non-refundable. (The boys were supposed to reimburse Mom but never have.)

Worse yet, if the girls keep their own cabins as singles, they will actually have to pay the single supplement which means they pay for the other berth anyway. If they take someone new, they have a change fee (minimum $50) and still need a new $250 pp deposit. If they switch their bookings to one cabin, one is cancelled (another $250 lost) and they still need to pay the $250 deposit again plus the new cruise fare rate which is higher now than when booked originally. Yes, we would try to get some of the fees fee waived on the cabin switch but can't guarantee this will happen. so worse case, saving $160 cost a minimum of $500, possibly $1000 and maybe even more.

Carnival will most of the time (I think) give a future cruise credit of $200 ($250 less the $50 fee) but it would be in the name of the ones who actually cancel and these certificates are not transferrable. Even though Mom paid, she can't use them, and I doubt if she would get her money back from the boys at this time if she gave the certificates to them.

Had they booked under a normal promotion or pricing, the deposit for the boys would be refunded (it is before normal penalties for cancelling are imposed since final is not due yet), plus we could switch one girl to the other cabin, protect the rate and have that deposit changed to the other cabin. Total loss - nothing.

Sometimes saving a few bucks can get expensive

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm Back

Yes, it has been a couple of months since I last wrote anything on my blog. There is a simple explanation for this. I've been quite lazy this summer! That's it and I admit it.

I basically needed some good R&R time and although we've been taking care of our clients, helping our associates, and have been operating our business, we've done it very low key for the past 9 weeks or so. We haven't even written a new Cruise Newz and Views (our monthly newsletter) since June issue

After almost 8 years of thinking cruising 24/7, I just decided to take a good mental break. We've worked on some things around the house, and have taken short get-a-way trips, have had company, and also have done "nothing at all."

Upcoming trips for us will be on the Carnival Liberty (our 3rd time on this ship) at the end of the month followed by some company at our house. Then it is a trip to TX (by car) for a granddaughter's wedding, back home for more company for a week and 1/2 and then on to our National Conference on the Carnival Pride departing from Baltimore.

We have been working on a few ideas now that we decided the "do nothing" time is over. From the views meter though, many have been checking back for new postings over the summer so I do thank you for your loyalty and patience. I'll see what I can do now to be more consistent with new topics. You can help by sending questions or topic ideas to or just posting to this on the blog.

Hope you all have had a good summer and stay tuned

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's time to get a passport

On June 1, 2009, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), was fully implemented (parts have been in effect for a couple of years - flying in or out of the US to foreign countries.) This final phase deals with land border crossings between the US and Mexico and the US and Canada but also cruises which is what we are about.

There is something called a "closed loop exemption" specifically for cruise passengers. In short, if your cruise begins and ends at the same US port, passengers will still be able to use a certified copy of a birth certificate and a gov't issued ID photo ID such as a driver's license (proof of citizenship and a photo to show you are who you say you are.) But it also depends on where the cruise goes.

If you are sailing a typical Caribbean cruise, for example - departing and returning to the same Florida port - this is a "closed loop." But if you were sailing a repositioning cruise from Boston to Miami for example, with several ports on the trip - Bermuda, Nassau, etc - this is not a "closed loop" and you would actually need a passport to board the ship. Another example is an Alaska Cruise North or South bound (Anchorage to Vancouver), again a passport will be required. Even Anchorage to Seattle does not fall into a "closed loop" by definition.

The place to read "the rules and requirements" is Yes, your agent should advise you properly but it is ultimately up to the traveler to present the proper documentation when checking in to board the ship.

Our best advise - "BITE THE BULLET" and get a passport. They are good for 10 years so it is a one-time expense for that time period (about $100), and then you do not have to worry about which cruise does or does not require one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Monthly Newsletter

We invite you to receive a FREE copy of our monthly newsletter - Cruise Newz & Views. Each issue has our personal comments, a featured destination, information on new contests or promotions and much more.

One new promotion we started this month is called the "Secret Word". This was an idea that came to us early (and I do mean early) in the AM one day. In each issue, we have hidden a "Secret Word" within one of the stories or sections. We do identify it with the comment "this is the secret word for this month." But we do not tell you where it is (we want you to read and enjoy the newsletter.)

When you book a cruise with us, besides getting the best pricing and best possible service, tell us the current "Secret Word" and you receive $25 on-board credit to spend on that cruise. We will not ask if you know what the word, you have to tell us when you are booking and making your first payment (deposit or final depending on requirement).

To begin receiving your monthly copy via e-mail, simply send your full name to and we will add you to our subscriber list. Once received we will also send you the current issue.

We also have started a client referral program and have our monthly drawing for clients booked during the month. Here's the page on our website about this program:

And we hope you noticed the entry form we have just added to the blog where you can enter to Win A Cruise!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cruises and the H1N1 situation

I prefer to follow the President's use of H1N1 in talking about the current situation instead of swine flu. Just the name "swine" alone is causing more panic, IMHO. The travel alerts are out, people are beginning to get very concerned and added to everything else going on, we ask ourselves "why travel anywhere right now?"

These are my thoughts why planning a cruise is a smart thing to do. First, when stress mounts, finding a way to relax is a good thing. We all work hard, worry about bills, jobs, health concerns, kids, and numerous other "negative" things that cause us stress. When we have something to look forward to that represents fun, pleasure, relaxation and just a plain get-away from the daily stress in our lives, we feel better. We all love to plan and look forward to a vacation.

There are many wonderful land based places one can go for a vacation and reap the benefit of looking forward to fun, pleasure and relaxation. But there are also cruise vacations. Forgetting the value of a cruise over land (IMHO), with the H1N1 situation, it is really a cruise is a very sensible thing to consider.

If you were planning to go to a hotel in MX for example, you are probably changing your plans and scrambling to find an alternative vacation. You have now added stress to your life. If you plan a cruise, they work on the alternative plan for you. We see this in hurricane season every year - ships can change itinerary to stay out of harm's way when necessary. A hotel or resort can not be moved. Where it is is where it stays. Where will H1N1 spread to next? Your guess is as good as mine and if planning your vacation there, will you have to worry about what happens in the future?

The cruise lines monitor all situations very closely and can change itineraries to keep the customer (and the crew) out of harms way as much as possible. Ships with itineraries to MX now have changed ports of call and can bypass stops in any port in MX but the passengers still have all the benefits of the cruise. If something happens, they can still alternate the itinerary again. They can make changes after you are on the ship if necessary. What happens if you were at a land resort and something happens there?

Since cruise lines are diligent in reporting outbreaks of anything (norovirus every year for example) and don't want their passengers to have problems nor do they want any bad publicity so they already take precautions in cleaning public areas continuously to try to prevent the spread of any desease. They also take precautions in just allowing people to board the ships, especially in times like this. Will people lie to prevent them being denied boarding? You bet they will! Do hotels even try to screen quests at check-in? I've never heard of them doing that.

Combine the safety and precautions of a cruise ship to prevent spread of illness, the flexibility that cruise ships have in where to travel to so they can protect their customers and avoid areas of potential problems, with the value currently offered as prices are still at very low per diems, and this is a great time to plan your summer vacation. Or fall, winter, or even next year's.

And realize that using an agent, and especially a cruise specialist who will keep abreast of situations for you (need I say especially us and our team?), is again the smart thing to do. You don't pay more than booking direct with a cruise line - and probably save money, you get "real world" advice on selecting the right cruise for you, you have an advocate to protect your vacation and interests, and you might even find a new friend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Each month we send out our personal newsletter - "Cruise Newz and Views" -to hundreds of subscribers who like to cruise. It is entertaining, informative, and best of all, FREE.

To be on our subscriber list, simply send e-mail to with your full name. (We need the name to be able to find you if you want to opt out at a future time.)

This is from the "From the Bridge" section of the April issue which went out yesterday:

January through April is referred to as “Wave Season” - the time frame when most people plan their summer, fall, and holiday cruise vacations. Over the last several years, the “booking window” had been about 7-8 months or longer prior to sailing. With the economic situations beginning the latter part of 2008 and early 2009, this “window” has changed to more “close-in” sailings. Since there was a higher than normal amount of availability, the cruise lines offered some amazing promotions in recent months to fill their ships. Some of you reading this month’s Cruise Newz did take advantage of a promotion and may have already sailed. In fact, in this month’s Cruise Newz, we share some stories about people who have taken advantage of recent promotions.

However, we said last month that these great bargains would not last for long and we are now seeing prices begin to increase as sailing dates fill up. There are still some great deals and bargains (depending on when and where you want to go) and our job is to find them for you.

Here’s an example: We (fortunately) took an option for a client this week on a Europe sailing for August. After working out the extra details (a few days in London and then getting to Copenhagen for the cruise), the client made the deposit before the option expired. Had we started the process two days later, the price of their cabin would have been an additional $600 per person. When you contact us and we find a cruise that looks right for you, be glad we do take options! There is no obligation, but it does protect you and the pricing we find for you!

The steps are easy:
1) You contact us to begin planning a cruise;
2) We help you by checking availability and pricing for the time frame and itinerary you are interested in;
3) We analyze pricing to find the best value for you;
4) We take an option which “locks in” the pricing we find and usually this will give you a few days to “think it over” before making the final decision.

Once you make the deposit, you can always cancel before final payment and receive a full refund so there is nothing to lose by depositing. Should the pricing go lower (once under deposit) we can get the pricing adjusted lower or better accommodation for what you are paying. Even after your booking is fully paid, we can either get you a refund or perhaps an upgrade to a better accommodation.

One last tip – if you are thinking about a cruise to Alaska, there will be less ships sailing there in 2010 (than this summer) so expect pricing to go up. There are still some great “deals” for 2009, but for 2010 dates, we recommend booking this year for next and getting something under deposit. This will assure you of the cruise or cruise tour, cabin type, and travel date that is your preference.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Why do the Cruise Lines have so many rate codes?

Things have been pretty quiet of late and haven't been on the blog for awhile. Tonight though, I'm looking up a cruise for a client and an interesting thing came up and I figured this was a good one.

Cruise Line Rate Codes! They must be drinking some cheap wine or something to come up with their pricing strategies on occasion. In this case (the cruise I was looking up tonight), there is a past passenger rate that is better than a non past passenger rate, a military rate that is a little less for the 1st and 2nd passenger than the past passenger rate (so far so good and makes sense), then there is another lower rate for non-refundable (you can figure out who this one is on), and then there is another rate for Cash Back Offer - an onboard credit.

Here's the thing - the Cash back offer rate is $100 higher than the past passenger rate but with $120 on board credit, actually comes out $20 less and even a couple of dollars less than the military rate. So a non past passenger, booking under this rate would actually pay less than a past passenger or military person.

As an agent, the higher rate means higher commission and in this case, good for both the passenger and the client. But unless an agent is "sharp" enough to really look at the rate codes and figure it out.............this is why using a professional who specializes in cruises is the right thing to do. Especially, and only, if they put the client's best interest first!

I find many instances where what looks good, isn't always the best price. Iguess this increases our value to the consumer to work and book with us since we know how to find these strange situations.

Next week I will be posting information about our new Associate Agent Program. We are looking to expand our business (yes, this is a good time to expand and train some folks to be cruise specialists with us). Don't want to wait until next week? Then send an e-mail to and I'll get back to you.

Smooth Seas and Blue Skies


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring is almost here

In a few days, Spring will have sprung, birds will be chirping, the trees will start to sprout leaves, and the weather will be improved for most around the country. All I can say is – it’s about time! Even here in our so called tropical paradise of S. Florida, it’s been an unusual few months with below average temps. Ok, granted, not as bad as those of you in the North East and Upper Mid West, but still not pleasant. Add to that, the situations many folks have gone through with the economy, jobs, etc., which has caused so much mental fatigue, Spring is a sign of things getting better.

Vacation and relaxation, in my humble opinion, is almost a necessity rather than a luxury these days. A vacation helps to clear one’s mind of the many challenges they go through, a chance to explore new things and places, share new adventures with loved ones, and to just “step” out of one’s daily routine and have some moments of pure enjoyment. Does a cruise offer this? You have to answer that for yourself. You know how we feel about it on a personal basis.
And although prices have started to go up a little as sailings fill up, there are still many great values out there for cruises of all lengths and destinations. The trend has been for closer in bookings the last couple of months and there have been some great last minute deals but once again, people are starting to plan a little further out. As the ships fill, the lower categories in each type of accommodation get sold out and the higher categories cost more. Waiting until closer to sailing date never is a good idea to plan a cruise.

Once you are under deposit, your pricing can not go up but it might go down. If you are booked, and there is a promotion later on with lower pricing, you know we will get it adjusted for you. And if something happens before the final payment due date, and you had to cancel, your deposit is completely refundable and we have no cancel penalty either.

So if you are wondering, “Should I plan a cruise now?”, I say why not. You have much to gain and nothing to lose. In fact, the biggest problem has been “Will my job still be there in a few months? so I can afford the vacation? That’s a question many ask themselves. Well, good news!
With our special “CruiseAssurance” guarantee, the Travel Companion Cancellation Protection policy we offer is now also covering “Loss of Job” through May 2nd. Book any cruise, any date, any cruise line, and accept our Travel Protection coverage (you have to pay for it to have it effective) and if you lose your job, and in the cancellation penalty period, you are covered the same as for sickness or health, jury duty, home uninhabitable, etc. plus all the other covered reasons for having to cancel or for trip interruption. All the benefits it always offers plus this new benefit and they never raised the cost to our clients! But you must book a cruise by May 2nd to get this additional coverage benefit.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Superstitions or quirks when you cruise?

Gamblers, sports figures, and probably most people have some superstitions or quirks if you will. Gamblers have lucky shirts and some sports figures maybe don't shave if on a winning streak. When I realized this was Friday the 13th, I wondered how superstitions or quirks and cruising might fit together. OK, so sometimes my brain goes in strange directions. :-)

One of my cruising superstitions is not to wear a shirt I've worn before when embarking a ship as we always buy the Welcome Aboard picture they take. I have not idea what would happen if I do but why take chances.

Another one of mine is about winning in the casino the first few nights of a cruise. It seems when I do, the winning streak goes downhill fast later in the trip. Understand, I don't want to lose a lot early on (in fact I never like losing) but I know that I will have a good streak sometime during the week and if it happens later on, there is a much better chance of coming home ahead.

We also feel that if we can get our luggage delivered to tthe cabin and get unpacked before muster drill, we will have a better time the rest of the trip.

I know some of our clients prefer the port side and are not happy when they can not get a cabin on that side. Do they think there is less chance of falling overboard?

As I have been thinking about this today, I also realized that even at tables for 6, 8 or 10, whatever seat people take the first night, they tend to sit in every night. Is this a superstition or a quirk?

So I'm asking those of you who follow this blog, do you have any superstitions or quirks when you cruise? Let me know by posting a reply.
Also, for those not on our monthly newsletter - Cruise Newz and Views - email distribution list and you would like to be, simply send me an e-mail with your name. list. Send it to and please include your name (I ask for this so I can find it easier if you decide to opt out at a future date as the file is by last name.)
And last but not least, on Tuesday Feb 24th at 8 PM ET, we are having a "live" online cruise night. Our special guest will be from Norwegian Cruise Line and our featured destination this month is Bermuda. Space is limited so if you would like to attend this webinar, let me know so I can send you the website and teleconference information necessary to join in. We will have some fun, and of course have some special offers for those who do attend.

Lastly, have a wonderful Valentine's day tomorrow.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's a good time to book a cruise

January proved to be a very “interesting” month for us in our business as well as in our personal life. Although I will not go into the personal situations, I will only say they were challenging. Now, we are looking forward and working on some new ideas that we can offer to our current as well as future clients.

As far as the “cruise industry” goes, the economic situations today have actually been good for the consumer in several ways. Normally, all the cruise lines prefer to see their capacity filling up earlier rather than having to offer promotions or reduced pricing as the sailing gets closer and will normally offer booking incentives when people book early and raise prices as ships fill up.

However, since the consumer is unsure of what the future holds for themselves, the recent trend has been for bookings 1-4 months prior to sailing instead of 7-10 months as we have seen for the last several years. Because the cruise lines need to fill their ships, they have been forced to reduce pricing and possibly offer some incentives to generate the new bookings needed. Besides lower pricing, they are also requiring lower deposits (although full payment due remains approximately 75 days before sailing), on board credit, upgrades, and other incentives to stimulate business and fill the space available on many itineraries.

So what happened to those customers who did book months ago and who should get the best pricing? We can’t speak for other agencies (lower price means lower commissions so many agencies will not adjust prices once booked) but we will always get pricing adjusted for our clients if the pricing goes lower after you are booked. We have always promised to protect our clients and always will. Many of you who booked a while ago on 2009 cruise vacations have had your pricing lowered recently. Lower pricing is not happening on every ship or sailing date but it has happened quite a bit lately.

But, we don’t expect this to last for long! Because of the recent promotions, space has been getting sold and ships are filling up for the premium dates and the close in dates.

Not only does pricing go up as the ships fill but just as important, the choice of desirable accommodations becomes less. When you book “close in” you must take what is left. The further out you plan a cruise, the better off you are. By booking early, you get the most choices for the type of accommodation you prefer and we will protect your pricing if it does go down after you book (it doesn’t affect you if pricing goes up unless you are making a new booking). Plus, your deposit is fully refundable prior to the final payment due date at which time the cruise line cancellation penalties go into effect (we have no cancel penalty either if there is no cruise line penalty imposed). If something happens in the future and you have to cancel and change your vacation plans before that final payment due date, you have not lost anything but if all goes as planned, you have everything to gain. Now is the best time to plan your summer and fall vacations and hopefully a cruise is in those plans.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Record # of Passengers in Port Everglades

Port Everglades tops World Record Number of Cruise Passengers for a single day!

On Saturday, January 3, 2009 the total of passengers disembarking and embarking ships was 49,234. This eclipsed the ports own record of 47,229 set about 2 years ago.

There were eleven ships in port that day - Carnival Splendor and Carnival Freedom, Queen Mary 2, Holland America Eurodam, Noordam and Statendam, the Discovery Sun (a small ship that only goes to the Bahamas), MSC Lirica, the Ruby Princess, The Royal Caribbean Navigator fo the Seas, and the Seabourne Pride.

If the ships were put bow to stern, they would stretch 9,869 feet long which is approximately 31 football fields or moved enough passengers to fill 105 747 Jumbo Jets. The number of passengers that day is about 1/3 the population of Hollywood, FL where the port is basically located at (and where we happen to live.)

Turnaround day on any ship is a well "cohreographed" event to begin with but think about the buses moving people from ship to airport and airport to ship, the taxis, the personal cars and don't forget the delivery trucks bringing supplies for each ship.

What an amazing day and accomplishment! And who said no one is going on cruises? The deals are great right now so call us or your travel agent and get yourself booked.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reply to Bobby

Disembarkation normally begins around 7-7:30 AM. With NCL, and some other lines also, if you want to take your own luggage off the ship, you can disembark as soon as ship is cleared in the morning.

Depending on the amount of luggage you have, is it worth it? Only if you have an early flight. since someone is picking you up, I would put luggage outside of cabin as normal and relax in the morning. Once you know your approximate disembark time, e-mail your friend so they can time getting to the port.

Figure 9 AM or so would be a pretty safe guess. Have breakfast and relax. Vacation cruise may have ended but no sense getting back in the "rat race" yet. It will take time to clear customs and immigration and no way to know how long that will be. some of them (the agents) are slower than others and people don't get their stuff in order and hold up the lines.

Since you mention the Pearl, I guess you are going to Miami for the cruise. Pretty easy to connect there so your friend can get there around 9 and wait for you to call them (aren't cell phones wonderful) once you have luggage and clear customs and then come to area to pick you up.

Pearl is a beautiful ship, enjoy the bowling and the Bliss lounge. Hoep this helped you.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hot Deals Temporarily Removed

Happy New Year to all who follow our blog.

We have removed our Hot Deals link temporarily as we make a transition from an Independent Contractor with Cruises Inc., to our sister company Cruise One as an Independent Franchise Owner.

This is strictly a strategic move for us affording us the opportunity to grow our business to new levels. Our dedication to clients will only get better. Our website link will be changing in the very near future but any replies or questions will still get to us during the transition period.

We will be posting information about a special event coming up on Jan 22 so stay tuned for that.