Monday, July 26, 2010

Cruises for Family Reunions

Why does a cruise make sense for a Family Reunion? Simply put, it is the only way I know that everyone in the family can participate where it is affordable for everyone.

Let's think about this. The larger the family, the more age groups and economic situations within the family. Family reunions could be at one of the family member homes for a day, but can everyone in the family provide what would be necessary to do that? Probably not. Most of the family members either do not have the large home nor the time to do what it takes to make sure everyone has a good time.

A reunion could be scheduled at a resort but, what type of resort? Resorts are either going to be moderate, inexpensive, or luxury when it comes to facilities and pricing. Can everyone in the family afford the luxury resort? Probably not. Do the family members who are able to afford the luxury resort want to spend time at the inexpensive resort with less facilities, less entertainment options, less things to do that most of the family members can afford? Maybe, but again, probably not.

A cruise is really a floating resort. Every ship has a wide variety of entertainment options on board and things to do when in port. There are luxury accommodations and budget accommodations on the same ship. Everyone can stay within their own budget, do what they want (or what they can afford to do), and yet the family can still plan activities and dining together without putting a burden on the younger, less affluent family members.

Using a cruise specialist who understands the ships, the ports of call, and how to make the family reunion a huge success, should be the first step in planning your next family reunion. Give our team a call and I'll bet that a cruise will become the first choice for your families next gala get together. 1-866-887-4477.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Hardest Question to Answer

In the almost 9 years of being a professional agent specializing in booking cruises for folks, there is one question I am constantly asked that I find the most difficult to answer. This question normally comes from "first time cruisers" or those who have only been on a couple of cruises.

The question is "What is the best ship or cruise line?" All the cruise lines advertise how they are the best which is not much different from any business in any industry. So how does one know the answer to this or who to believe?

Well, IMHO, there is no "Best" ship or cruise line! There is however, something that is probably best for each individual, every time they are looking to plan a cruise vacation! And each time it might be different.

Itinerary, departure port, date of departure, type of accomodation, who is going on the trip, and of course, pricing or as I like to say - value. All of these things have to be taken into consideration to make a good decision.

I think it is a good idea for people to try different cruise lines early on in their cruising experience. We did that ourselves as our first 5 cruises were on 4 different cruise lines. This way we learned about the "personalities" of the different cruise product out there and yes, all the cruise lines do have a different type of personality (or put another way, energy level.)

The basics are the same for all of them - food, entertainment, choice of accomodation, and visiting new places or going back to those that were enjoyed in the past. And of course, one of our favorite things on any cruise is just being out on the open seas.

Do we have our personal favorites now? Sure we do! Part of it has to do with the "perks" we get as a past passenger with that particular cruise line but mostly, it is because we choose, based on our experience, the ship and/or cruise line we enjoy the most and that fit our personality. Does that mean we will not go on other lines? Of course not!

We're the same as you. Each time we plan our own trip, we take into consideration the variables mentioned above - itinerary, departure port, and value etc.

So when you call us to plan a cruise vacation and ask "What is the best cruise line or ship", we will ask you questions and sometimes make recommendations that you did not think of. Our job as your Personal Cruise Consultant is to help you make that good decision so you have a great experience and get the best value each and every time.

You don't have to follow our recommendation (or your favorite agent's reccomendation even if not us) but with over 50 personal cruises now, on many cruise lines and ships, numerous other ship tours and training sessions, traveling to many different destinations, (sometimes the same destination on a different product), and knowing that we know if we do right by you this time, you'll come back to us next time, it just might be worthwhile to try something new. You just might be pleasently surprised.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Promotions and Marketing - Cruise LInes and Other businesses

All businesses seem to run promotions which is fine, but they run them constantly. In fact, many times, it is the same thing packaged differently with a new name. Yes, I realize this is "marketing" and the purpose of marketing is to get people "into the store" or to pick up the phone as the case may be and to sell the companies product. I'm fine with that and even do it myself (our Secret Word Game, our Client Loyalty Rewards Program, our monthly bonus rewards point offer, etc.)

Whatever happened to the "good old days" when it was truly a "sale" when it really was a special deal?

Before I get to cruise lines, here are a couple of examples (I will not mention company names but you might figure out who they are:

1) A supplier of eyeglasses, ready in about an hour, always has a sale - Free Frames, Free Lenses, 30, 40, 50% off both - and every time we go in to get new glasses, the final price is always about the same.

2) A clothing store constantly has "Buy 1 at regular price and get one or two free. All suits 50% off" Bottom line - the total of the items seems to be about the same.

3) Furniture is a prime example of the overuse of the word "sale" IMHO. "30% off our regular price!" the ad might say but did you know that the "regular price" is an arbitrary number the store set, not the MSIP (manufacturer's suggested retail price). They have never sold the item at the "regular price" and never will. If they want to say 50% off, then they make the "regular price" higher and when they take the 50% off, the bottom line price will be the same as when they take 30% off the "regular price."

4) Cruise Lines - Free Air, 2 for 1, free upgrade, Cash Back, etc. but is anything really free? Let's face it - promotions are simply to sell space on a particular sailing (s) that might be hard to fill anyway. Brochure Rates are like Rack Rates in hotels. It is extremely rare that anyone ever pays those prices or that the item/space is sold at that price; like furniture's "regular price. Wishful thinking? Possibly. But something to run a promotion from to make it sound soooo good, probably.

With cruises, everyone will be entitled to some type of promotional price. Yes, there are some prices that require a type of "qualification" such as past passenger, regional (live in a certain state or region), Sr., and some others that do offer special lower pricing for a limited time, but if you get "hung up" on a promotional piece because of what it says in LARGE PRINT, and you don't read the small print at the bottom of the ad, you may actually miss out on something worthwhile by not using a reputable agent. You see, they almost always say "select sailings" and "from" and "capacity controlled".

What is:
  • "Select sailing?" It is a date of sailing that is harder to fill the ship than most others.
  • "From" always refers to the lowest type cabin category and/or undesirable location on the ship
  • "Capacity Controlled" means that maybe there is only one at that price (usually more but could be one.)
  • "2 for 1" is used in conjunction with the brochure rate.
  • "FREE Air" - is it really Free? Many times we find the cabin price is higher than another "rate code" or promotion to offset the cost of air.

Remember TANSTAAFL - there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

As an agent, always trying to get the best value (notice I said value not just price), for our client and knowing how to interpret the various "rate codes" and promotions to find the best deal for them, these constant promotions really do become a challenge for myself and other agents so they must really be confusing to the consumer. Is that what the cruise lines want?

I think what they really want is to keep their ships full and use this type of constant "special deal marketing" to accomplish and reach the goal. Does it work? It does! Ships go out full. But unfortunately, the industry has gotten so "entrenched" in the price, they forget to "sell" the value.

Sometimes there are many different "rate codes" on a particular sailing. but guess what, the bottom line is the same for all of these codes. Why not eliminate the confusion and just price the product what you want to sell it for. Then if you want to run a special promotion, it might really be special and attract new business. Will this happen? Probably not with some rare exceptions.

I just wanted to get this off my chest but I'm realistic enough to know it will not change. So, we will continue to do what we've done for over 8 years - research, analyse and come up with the best pricing and value we can for clients at the time of booking and fight the cruise lines if they actually lower pricing later on through some other "promotion."

This topic has become relevant and a confusing time due to one cruise lines current promotion. I will not name names but trust us to give you the best advice and honest assesment and to find you the best value when you book your cruise vacation with us. I say value not price because sometimes we might recommend something that costs a little bit more but gives more value, and other times, we have actually tried to explain why booking at a lower price or category makes more sense and is actually better value. That's our job as your advocate when you are our customer.

One last point - our promotions as mentioned above, DO NOT cost you any more but are truly some EXTRA value for a specific time period for a specific reason. When they are over, they are over.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

St. Thomas Random Shooting Incident

The media once again has to tie a random, senseless act of violence that occurred in St. Thomas, with the cruise industry. Why? To sell advertising?

The most unfortunate and sad incident in St. Thomas where a young 14 yr old girl was shot a killed in St. Thomas by a shootout in a neighborhood became news because she was a passenger on a cruise ship.

These stupid and senseless acts of violence take place almost every day in cities and towns across America and other parts of the world. In many cases, the story would be a "30 second" blip on the local news (if that much). The fact that she was on a cruise ship has no bearing on the incident itself. The family was not even on an excursion sold through the cruise line. This family could just have easily been in St. Thomas having arrived by plane. Would the airline be tied into the story? I seriously doubt it!

The cruise line has halted excursions to a very popular beach temporarily and this is an overreaction IMHO. It was an incident in a local neighborhood, had nothing to do with that beach, nothing to do with a cruise ship, but was just "one of those unfortunate things and someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

So before you think it is "not safe" on a cruise ship and passengers just get killed, look around your hometown. Do you have a police force? Why? Because things happen and they are not all good! There are criminals, and stupid people everywhere, and the police in most cases can only react AFTER the fact, not before, to apprehend the perpetrator and charge them with the crime.

St. Thomas is one of the most popular ports of call and will continue to be so. I personally look forward to going back for the shopping. Great bargains on things my wife likes and a big savings compared to the prices in the stores here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Norwegian EPIC arrives in Miami

So what's new in cruising today? The new NCL Epic arrived in her new Homeport of Miami, FL on Thursday and left on her maiden Caribbean Voyage on Saturday. This totally unique 153,000 gross tons, 4,100 passenger floating resort is the first new ship to homeport in Miami in several years. She is a World Class entertainment destination to be sure!
  • Blue Man Group will be a regular show and exclusive to the Epic.

  • With the only "big top" at sea, Cirque Dreams and Dinner presents a one of a kind interactive dining experience with music, mayhem, and acrobatic imagination.

  • Legends in Concert, the original and world's greatest live tribute show is featured for the first time at sea in over a decade along with The Second City improvisational comedy troupe.

  • Add to that Howl at the Moon, the greatest rock 'n roll dueling piano show that encourages audience participation and NY based Slam Allen Band playing down-home blues in the Fat Cats Jazz and Blues club.

  • Another cruise ship first is the SVEDKA Ice Bar which originated in Sweeden. 17 degrees and everything - bar, stools, and all is made of ice. Yes, they will supply a coat and hat. Small cover charge includes two signature drinks.

  • The Epic Plunge - an Aqua Park with the only tube slide and largest bowl slide at sea; extreme rock-climbing on a 33 ft high, 64 ft wide rock climbing wall with rapelling wall too; 6 lane bowling alley, sports deck with plenty of athletic activites possible.

  • For the kids, 3 spearate venues and Nickelodeon at Sea (TM) offering Nickelodeon themed family entertainment including character meet and greet.

  • And don't forget the food with 20 different dining venues

This is an amazing ship and truly a destination unto it's own. We look forward to sailing on her in October for our annual company conference.

To learn more, see pictures and view videos, you can go to But don't book there. Call us at 1-866-887-4477 to see if we have some special promotions, group space or value adds for the date you are interested in (and we also have all the cruise line promos available and get you the Sr., union, military, or other special rates you might be entitled to.)

Another reason to book with CruiseOne - Richman, O'Hare and Associates is our exclusive Secret Word Game where you can win a very unique prize just by telling us the current Secret Word (you need to subscribe to our newsletter - Cruise Newz & Views - to learn the Secret Word of the month. You can subscribe by sending e-mail to with your name.)

We also have our exclusive Client Loyalty Rewards Points program - you earn points on every cruise you book with us on any cruise line. YOU can earn from $25 - $200 in on board credits (details on our website in the From Your Cruise Specialist section .

Most important, our team is dedicated to providing exceptional service, expertise and help in choosing the perfect cruise vacation for you! We knkow if you book with us once, you will come back to us again and again.

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Our newest Team Member - Missy

Ok, not really a new associate agent, but we did get a playmate for Red (there are many of you who know, and we think love Mr. Red) our 8 year old cat.

Wednesday, we went to the Humane Shelter, just to look (yeah right!) at what might be available as Red lost his playmate some time ago. There were some adorable animals - kittens and older cats - but we thought a kitten was the way to go.

There were several pairs or more from the same litter and they were running a "2 for 1" sale (sounds like a cruise line except the cruise line works off the brochure rate that noone pays anyway). Adopt one and get 2 for the same fee which really was a "2 for 1". We saw two little darlings but felt that they would not pay attention to Red and we couldn't do that to our buddy for 8 years.

But then we saw an adorable little 3 month old female and that was that. Did the adoption right then and there however, had to wait until the next day so she could be spayed before bringing her home.

Today, we did the first little introduction and although both were a little apprehensive, there was no hissing or fur standing up. It will take time but we think they will become friends in fairly short order.

We almost named her Princess (one of our favorite cruise lines) and even bought a pet food dish with Princess on it during one of our cruises. But, Mr. Red and Missy made more sense. Have already been asked "Where is a picture?" but don't want to scare her yet with a camera. In a couple of days I will and then maybe figure out how to post it on here.

So if you call about a trip and we are laughing out of control when answering the phone, you'll know why - the two of them are playing and we are having fun watching.

Since this is a BLOG about cruising, let me just add that there are some very good promotions right now including on-board credits and even complimentary Spa treatments on select sailings during the remainder of the year.

Have a wonderful weekend and I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July Cruise Newz & Views is on it's way

Our monthly newsletter is on it's way this morning. It's FREE but is only sent to our subscriber ist and comes via e-mail. You can subscribe by sending an e-mail with your full name to

One of the reasons to receive this is our Secret Word Game. You might remember a TV game show starring Grocho Marx years ago where during the show, if the contestant said the secret word a duck came down and they won $100 (big money back then).

Needless to say, we can't drop a duck down from your ceiling, so somewhere in each issue we have put a Secret Word for the month. When you are booking a cruise with us, and mention the Secret Word, you become a winner. No, we don't give away a $100 but right now we have a very unique gift. We have been able to secure some Masterpiece Artwork Reproductions. What makes them so interesting is the artwork is on one side and a bio of the artist and the story behind the painting are on the back. We are even including a display stand as it made no sense to us to frame these pieces.

We also have a Featured Destination in each issue and this month we have included a specific shopping reccommendation in the port - a local business we are familiar with and have actually purchased from over the years when visiting this island.

Another one of our exclusive offerrings is our Client Loyalty Rewards Program. Although details on our website, subscribers get advance notice of the current BONUS points promotion in the newsletter. To learn about this program, click on the link below to go directly to the information on our website:

OBTW, when on our website, browse around - we have a wealth of information, the cruise finder, current cruise news articles, and much more.

You can subscribe and also unsubscribe as you choose so there's no obligation and we will NEVER, EVER sell our mailing list to anyone else.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Better than Facebook (for me)

It's been awhile folks but after experimenting with a Facebook Fan Page, I have decided that I like "blogging" better. So I'm back to stay this time!

Since this is more of a "re-activation" post (I had to remember my passowrd to get back into this). I will add some new content later today.

Currently we are in the final stages of editing our July/August issue of Cruise Newz & Views, our popular newsletter that we send out to our customers and potential customers. If you are not already receiving this in your e-mail Inbox each month, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail to or Be sure to give us your name as our newsletters are personalized.

Some of the sections each issue are "Featured Destination" and "A Little Humor to End With." You will also learn about special contests we run, our exclusive Client Loyalty Rewards Program, and have the opportunity to answer our Question of the Month (annoynomously of course.)

So until later, it's good to be back!