Wednesday, August 29, 2012

5 Things to Look for in Selecting a Cabin

What’s the best cabin location on the ship? I get asked this a lot.  How can you make sure you pick the best location in your chosen stateroom category?  The truth is, it depends on your likes and needs.

One of the best ways to find the right cabin for you is to view the ship’s deck plans in the cruise line brochure or website.  While the plans may not be exatly to scale and cabin size is not always in proportion to the drawings, there are a few things to keep in mind. Knowing the surroundings will help you avoid a less-than-ideal stateroom.

Here are the top 5 things to look for in cabin selection:

1) Look for elevators and staircases:  Some people want to be close to the elevators and staircases. However, with the convenience of elevators and stairs comes a higher volume of traffic and possibly more noise.  What is more important to you?
2) Look up:  What’s above your cabin?   A basketball court, jogging track, the kid zone.  If you have children, having the kids’ zone above you, might not be a bad idea. However, if you are a honeymoon couple, this might not be the best location for you.

3) Look Down:  Is the bandstand for one of the show lounges right below your room?  Even with good sound proofing there is a chance for ambient noise.

4) Look across the hall: Is there a room service pantry shown or other service area.  If so, this might be an area you want to avoid.

5) Look right and left:  If you are at the end of a hallway, make sure the disco or other high-energy lounge is not adjacent. Unless you are a night owl, you’ll want to avoid hallways that lead to these lounges.  Late night revelers can carry on with the partying outside your door. If you are an early-to-bed person, you might want to choose another location.

Today’s modern cruise ships have been designed with passenger comfort in mind.  Architects strive to develop deck plans that confine public rooms and lounges to areas far from the staterooms.  Advance review of the deck plans and advice from a good cruise specialist can help deliver an extra measure of peace and quiet in your stateroom.

Have you ever booked a stateroom that was an oops? I’d like to hear more.

Thinking about a cruise visit:

Create memories and not regrets.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Get the Best Cruise Vacation Deal

Make it happen

Have you always wanted to do something, but then never pursued it?  Maybe it stayed in your mind and eventually became a vanishing thought. 

I’m working on a postcard campaign (Yes. Snail mail.) for a big band riverboat cruise, on the Mississippi River.  I researched, received the information, and then it sat on my desk because I didn't know which way to go.  A couple of days later and a follow up call, I had a team together to execute the campaign. I could have designed the postcard myself and it would have been time consuming and costly.  In working with people who know what they are doing, I now have a top notch, cost-effective, professional piece!

Have you always wanted to take a cruise?  Here are some ways to get the best value to make it happen.

Should I wait to book my cruise?

Well that depends on you. Do you have the luxury of traveling at the last minute? If not, contact your local cruise agent and book well in advance. This will assure you the best cabin at the best rate available. That doesn’t mean the cruise rate won’t change (I've seen rates increase after bookings.), but if you are dealing with a good agent, they will guarantee to change your rate if the cruise line adjusts the prices prior to final payment.

When is the best time to travel?

If you are traveling to any exotic port, there are usually softer booking periods in which pricing can be hundreds of dollars lower. For example, if you are sailing to Alaska – book in May or September and your savings will be substantial. Caribbean is dirt cheap in the fall – it’s so inexpensive, it’s almost free. Well, maybe not, but it can be less than $100 dollars per day which is cheaper than staying home. Again, choose a reputable, knowledgeable agent who can guide you to these savings.

How do I find the best cruise deals?

Ask your travel agent if they send out weekly specials. Most competent agents send out a weekly e-mail promotion. This will give you a heads up when they have special cruise deals. In other words, agents regularly have access to cruise line promotions that include: shipboard credit, cabin category upgrades, reduced payment deposits, coupon booklets for onboard savings, and even free gratuities. But you will miss the deal, if you don’t know about it. 

Create memories and not regrets.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Have You Ever Cancelled a Trip?

You’ve spent months planning the perfect family holiday vacation.  You tell yourself- “we’re going no matter what!” That “what” suddenly becomes little Johnny running a high fever of 105 days before your departure.  Then, you get sick.

Sound familiar? It’s funny because I am guilty of just that type of mentality- the days of “oh nothing’s going to happen before we go” are totally over.  Anything can happen.

Recently, I met a gentleman who wished he purchased the travel insurance.  He and his family were on a cruise.  His teenage son fell and cut open his head.  The cut to the forehead, at the hairline, wasn’t too bad but they decided to make a visit to the ship doctor to check it out.  Stitches and $500 later, they were back to their vacation.  The insurance for this cruise would have been around $80.

-People get sick
-Accidents happen
-Hurricanes hit
-Floods occurs
-Resorts get damaged
-Your lovely boss needs you to stay to help with a company merger
-Or worse, you get terminated

All these and more are reasons to buy Travel Insurance. For the small cost of my trip investment I get: peace of mind, protection against the unexpected and reassurance that I will not lose my financial investment. For fractions of what you invest in a trip from planning to actual cost, travel insurance is worth it.

Check out some of the things that travel insurance will cover:
·       Your baggage is lost or damaged.
·       You're involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. You need medical evacuation. 
·       You need to cancel your trip due to illness.
·       Your cruise line, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. You need your non-refundable expenses covered and to get to your destination.
·       You have a medical emergency in a foreign country.
·       A terrorist incident occurs in the city where you’re planning to visit and you want to cancel your trip.
·       A hurricane forces you to evacuate your resort, hotel or cruise.
·       You are called for jury duty.

 Why did you have to cancel a trip?

For additional information on travel insurance, click here

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cruising Disney

Tips from Disney Cruisers

Pixie dust, princesses and pirates make a great vacation.  Read what others have to say to make your Disney cruise experience even better.

Greg B.
Resist the temptation to drop the kids off in the A.M. and leave them there 'til midnight. Take them to the stage show. They will love it!

Amy R.

Online Registration
Register online when you are able to (A couple months in advance of your cruise). Also do the kids' club registration online.  Print out all registration info and take it with you. If there is a line for the kids' club registration in the port terminal, do not wait in it. By pre-registering online, all you need to do is take your paperwork to the kids' club on the ship and turn it in.  They will give the kids' their Mickey Bands (kids' club ID's/tracking devices) within a couple of minutes. My kids LOVED the kids' club on the ship and at Castaway Cay.  Definitely take advantage of it!

Clothes Pins
Bring clothes pins to hang wet bathing suits and cover ups in the bath tub/shower.
I bought several boxes of "movie candy" before we left.  Snacks are available to buy at Preludes during the show, but they are expensive.  If you don't bring snacks, grab some cookies or chips from Flo's Cafe before heading to the show.  These are free. You can also order cookies from room service. Mickey Bars (ice cream Mickey Heads covered in chocolate) are free through room service even though they are not on the menu. You can also get Mickey Ear Bars in the restaurants for dinner! 
Alcohol/Bottled Water
If you plan on buying drinks on board, you may want to pack your own liquor, beer, or wine.  Disney lets you bring as much as you want in your carry-on luggage.  It can’t go in your checked luggage.  If you take a bottle of wine to dinner, they will charge you a corking fee.  You do have a small refrigerator in your room to keep it cold!
$1 bills:  
If you plan to order from room service, bring an envelope of ones to use for tips.  Everything through room service is free, but you have to tip.
Pirate Night
Disney has a family themed pirate show with Mickey and Friends at 7:45.  Pirate fireworks start around 10:30 with a pirate show (Captain Jack, etc.). Everyone gets a Mickey Pirate Bandana, but take other pirate gear if you have any.  I also took "glow" necklaces and bracelets for my girls.

Rich P.
The pool deck of the Fantasy is amazing (with movies on the big screen, great pools, and the Aqua Duck), but the deck surface gets unbearably hot.  You’ll want flip flops for the whole family.
If you have a large family, consider getting two connecting ocean views over one family stateroom.  We got one family stateroom on deck 10 for our family of 5. We used our veranda a couple times. It was a nice room but tight.  My brother is going in a couple weeks and got 2 connecting ocean views.  His kids will have a separate room and he is spending less money.

Try a different boutique bar every night.  There are many small and beautiful bar spaces around the ship.  Make sure you get around to see them.

Go for cruises longer than 3-4 days.  It takes most folks a few days to settle into ship life.

Have the ship's photographers take a lot of pictures of your party and buy the digital photo package (you get all photos on a disk).  You just spent a lot for a great cruise--get those pictures!

If you've got great vacation tips to share, click here.

To request additional information or to secure your voyage on Disney, please click here.

What's your destination?

Create memories and not regrets.

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