A little about me!

I’ve been a travel agent for almost six years. And I’m new to blogging, this is my first one ever, so bear with me. Previous to this, I was (and still am) a Licensed Customs Broker.  I spent 30 plus years working at JFK Airport, assisting customers with the clearance and delivery of their international packages.  I thought, if I could move cargo, I can move people and it has to be more fun!!!

And it is!!!  There is nothing more satisfying then planning the perfect adventure for someone.  Convincing them to use a travel agent, instead of doing it on their own can be a daunting task.  Most people think they can get it cheaper on the internet.  And maybe so, sometimes!  If your just booking air to visit grandma, go ahead do it on your own, nothing difficult or special about it.  You may even think if your booking something like “just a cruise” you can do it on your own.  Yes, you can!  But did you know that a travel agent may have special deals, fares, amenities that they can offer you.  Sometimes, even upgrades are available through a travel agent, that you wouldn’t be able to secure yourself.  It would never ever hurt you to ask a travel agent for their help.

Most (not all), but most agents, in most cases do not charge a planning fee or research fee (more on this topic later).  Travel Agents are paid by the cruise line, hotel, resort, wholesaler, tour operator.  It does not add to the cost of your vacation at all!!!  Again, I must say – that using a travel agent will get you more bang for your buck then you can get on your own.  Travel Agents, in most cases, are not paid until your trip is completed.

I’ve made mistakes (as all travel agents have) but my clients would never know it, well except for my son –  when I first started I booked him and his wife on a trip from New York to Florida –  he was extremely perplexed while on his flight TO Florida, why he was getting text’s from JetBlue telling him to check-in for his return flight.  Well, his mother (the travel agent) booked his flight going and coming on the same day!!!!  Luckily, I was able to fix it without any costs.

So, here’s my plan with my new blog –  every week I will share something new – it maybe about a destination, it maybe travel tips, it may some interesting Travel Agent stories, but it will be new and entertaining and I hope you will enjoy it

 

 

River Cruising or Ocean Cruising?

What’s the difference?  There are many myths about river cruising, that just are simply not true –  I think the biggest myth is that it’s all OLD people!  There are just as many myths about ocean cruising as well – that are simply, just as not true – for instance – oh! Carnival is just for partying! Or, to many kids!

Both vacation types have their advantages and disadvantages – but it all depends on what your looking for and the type of adventure you are seeking.

So, let’s look at the differences and then maybe you can decide which is right for you? Maybe they both are – depending on what your in the mood for?

River ships are smaller than Ocean Liners – without a doubt –  average river cruise is between 100 and 200 guests.  For an Ocean cruise – there is no longer an average ship size – they are getting bigger and bigger every year.  Ocean cruise ships can be anywhere from 2000 to almost 7000 passengers. Yup, I said 7000 –  Symphony of the Seas – worlds largest cruise ship (currently) can hold up to 6,680 passengers.  Now I’ve been on cruise ships that were filled to capacity and honestly, the ship didn’t feel over crowded.  They have done amazing things to make sure you don’t feel that way.

Cabins – way different from an ocean to a river cruise.  Besides there a much fewer cabins on a river cruise, they tend to be smaller in size.  A river cruise cabin tends to be between 100 and 200 square feet, but most have floor to ceiling glass balconies or verandas and do feel spacious.  On an ocean cruise – you can go from this same size cabin (inside, lower deck) to a spacious suite. Not that they do not have them on River Cruises, they do. It’s just the average size.

Dining options – way way less on a river cruise, usually buffets with maybe (1) restaurant – where on a mega ship you can get up to 25 choices on what to eat.

Entertainment – more subdued and low key on a river cruise – you probably won’t find any splash broadway play or a full chorus of singers and dancers.  Many times, the entertainment is linked to the cruise itself and the destinations.  If your doing a wine cruise, the entertainment can be a wine tasting or pairing.

Itineraries – on a river cruise you’ll spend longer time in the destination port and usually a different port each day.  There will be guided tours offered and your closer to the actual village and towns.  Ocean cruising – well, you can pull into port with 3 or 4 other ships at the sametime on the same day – most of the excursions revolve around beach, snorkel, diving, fishing or tours.

What’s included – on most river cruises close to everything is included in the fare you pay – there aren’t many extra’s – maybe an upcharge for a certain tour or on some, added costs for alcohol – on an ocean cruise – everything is extra – even your food if your looking to dine in a speciality restaurant.

Early riser your not!  well, on most river cruises, tours start early in the day so if you want to participate you’ll be up a bit early or you’ll miss breakfast. On an ocean cruise – sleep in, stay up – doesn’t matter – food is available 24/7 you won’t miss a meal by sleeping in.

But, I guess the biggest difference you’ll find is the water – remember a river cruise is just that – it’s on a river, not on the ocean.  You won’t be looking out from the ship to beautiful sunset on the water – not that you won’t have beautiful sunsets, they will just be different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Wednesdays

Travel Geek Blog

Every Wednesday I will post some thrill seeking, wild adventure you might want to add to your bucket list – hey you never know!!!

June 20, 2018

Free dive at Dean’s Blue Hole (Bahamas)

Don’t be fooled by its poetic name or its tropical location: Dean’s Blue Hole is deep, dark and intimidating. But, if you’re up for it, you can tame the world’s deepest known seawater blue hole by learning to become a free diver.
You probably won’t beat William Trubridge, who broke the unassisted free diving record by diving 100 meters here in 2011. And you certainly won’t conquer all 203 meters of this light-and-oxygen-deprived sinkhole. But you’ll have a great time getting close.
blue hole

June 6, 2018 –

Cage of Death (Australia)

You can stare into the faces of some of Australia’s biggest saltwater crocodiles for 15 minutes, separated by nothing more than a couple inches of glass.

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Tuesday is Travel Tip Day

Travel Geek Blog

Every Tuesday I will post a new travel tip for you!

June 19, 2018 –  Insurance – never leave home without it!  I’m really serious about this topic and recommend to everyone (regardless if they book their vacations with me or not). YOU NEVER KNOW!  There are a multitude of reasons to have it.  You plan your vacation (most times way in advance) and to protect your investment insurance is critical.  For some unknown reason, the week before your scheduled to go – something happens – someone gets sick, someone gets hurt and family member has an issue, you lose your job – vacation ruined – money is lost!!!  Or even worse, your on vacation and something happens – something unexpected – some one gets hurt. I have two stories – one was my husband – swimming in the caribbean and steps on a sea urchin. Multiple stingers in his…

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Must have Monday!

Travel Geek Blog

Every Monday I’ll post what I think are “must have’s” when I travel.  These are the things I wouldn’t leave home without.  Maybe you’ll find something on my list that you’ve never thought to bring and think it’s a good idea or maybe you’ll have something on your list that we never thought of.

June 18, 2018 – Large zip lock bags and supermarket bags – I always throw a few of each in my suitcase and never enough of them.  They take up no room and they always come handy.  Packing to go home, our wet bathing suits and sandy water shoes go in them, to keep everything in my suitcase from getting wet and sandy.  I always seem to have picked up some pretty shells from the beach.  Maybe a bottle of  local spirits or wine you purchased while traveling. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll use them…

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Must have Monday!

Every Monday I’ll post what I think are “must have’s” when I travel.  These are the things I wouldn’t leave home without.  Maybe you’ll find something on my list that you’ve never thought to bring and think it’s a good idea or maybe you’ll have something on your list that we never thought of.

July 2, 2018 –  You’ll think this is a little bit odd – but with technology today many cruise lines and even some newer resorts you insert a card into a slot when you enter your room to keep the air conditioning on.  Once you remove the card the air turns off and when you return to your room it can be hot and stuffy.  I always take an expired card with me (usually not a bank or credit card because I do not want to use anything with my name or account number on it) but an expired or completely empty gift card. Keeping it in the slot keeps the air on when your out of the room. The intention is that you would use your room key, but any card with the strip on it works.

June 25, 2018 – This is something that everyone will tell you to make sure you take on a cruise with you –  but I’ve found that even at resorts, there never seem to be enough outlets with all the goodies we bring along that need to be charged.  Of course, your phone is top of that list, but my camera has rechargeable batteries, my laptop (which being a travel agent I can not leave at home, cause you never know).  So, just with two of us, that’s at least 5 things that need to be plugged in and charged up.  I hate to crawl under the furniture to find an outlet, so I always take a power strip with me. It just makes life a little bit easier!

June 18, 2018 – Large zip lock bags and supermarket bags – I always throw a few of each in my suitcase and never enough of them.  They take up no room and they always come handy.  Packing to go home, our wet bathing suits and sandy water shoes go in them, to keep everything in my suitcase from getting wet and sandy.  I always seem to have picked up some pretty shells from the beach.  Maybe a bottle of  local spirits or wine you purchased while traveling. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll use them for, but they will come in handy no matter where you travel.

June 4, 2018 –  a small notebook – for me, this one of the things on the top of my list for a variety of reasons –  I guess the first being I can’t remember a damn thing!!! Must be my age, but for whatever the reason – trips kind of mesh together – when was I there, what did I do, what did I like, what didn’t I like.  I started doing this long before I became a travel agent.

When you cruise as much as we do, you tend to re-visit some of the ports – if I’ve hit on something either really good or really bad and either want to do it again or never want to do it again – I write it down!  I would never have remembered where the home of the Pina Colada was if I never wrote it down.  Sure, I have pictures of me in front of the sign (actually have a few taken from different visits).  And I have pictures of some of my guests taken in front of the same sign when I recommend the place to them.

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Have you ever taken a photo and then for the life of you can’t remember when or where it was.  This little book has saved me from that.  I don’t buy a new book every time I travel – I just put the first date and the last date on the cover and refer back to it when I need to.

I don’t just use for big trips – I take it with me on the weekend get-aways and road trips as well.

 

Sunday Specials

Every Sunday I will post a few special vacation packages deals that I think are really good or unique offers, this week I have a few to highlight for you

June 3, 2018

Offer #1 –  Diving in Turks & Caicos –  with our partner, Club Med we have been able to put this amazing deal together for anyone who likes to dive or has ever dreamed of learning how.  Club Med is an adults only all inclusive resort in Turks & Caicos.  A quick 15 minute ride from the airport.  They offer much more than diving (which is an extra cost) – snorkeling, sailing, entertainment, beautiful beach, good food, 24 hour fitness room, yoga, spa treatments, beautiful pool. You really couldn’t ask for more.  The dive boat is right on the property, no shuttle needed.  We just returned last week and had a wonderful time.    CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS ON THIS TRIP!

Offer #2 –  We’ve partnered with the New York Mets for a trip to Spring Training in March 2019. This time we will be staying at Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida. It’s a short 10 minute ride to First Data Field.  Depending on how long you stay, will determine how many games you attend.  The Mets have provided us with some VIP additions to the trip.

Club Med Sandpiper Bay is all-inclusive, but not adults only – bring the kids – get up close and personal with the players.  This will be our 2nd Annual Mets Spring Training Outing and you don’t want to miss it.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP!

 

Sail away Saturday

Every Saturday I will highlight a different cruise line and what they offer.  Let’s start with a list of cruise lines –  did you know there were so many! Many of these you’ve never heard of, I’m sure.  I’m sure you didn’t know how many cruise lines are actually connected to each other and have the same owners –  for instance Carnival Corporation owns – Aida Cruises,  Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruise Lines, Cunard, Holland America, P&O, Princess, and Seabourn.   They can offer everything from traditional cruising to premium.

Name Status Headquarters Notes
AIDA Cruises Operational  Germany Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
American Cruise Lines Operational  USA Based in Guilford, Connecticut, offers coastal cruises and paddle-steamer cruises
Azamara Club Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line Operational  USA Formed by former executives from the defunct Celebration Cruise Line, operates the Grand Celebration
Birka Line Operational  Finland Subsidiary of Rederiaktiebolaget Eckerö, operates the Birka Stockholm
Bohai Cruises[7] Operational  China State owned,owns Chinese Taishan.
Carnival Cruise Line Operational  USA/ United Kingdom Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Celebrity Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Celestyal Cruises Operational  Cyprus Previously named Louis Cruises
Compagnie du Ponant Operational  France Based in Marseille, operates yacht cruises
Costa Cruises Operational  Italy Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Cruise & Maritime Voyages Operational  United Kingdom Owned by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd.
Crystal Cruises Operational  Japan Owned by Genting Hong Kong
Cunard Line Operational  United Kingdom Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Disney Cruise Line Operational  United States Headquartered in Celebration, Florida
Dream Cruises Operational  Hong Kong Owned by Genting Hong Kong
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Operational  United Kingdom
FTI Cruises Operational  Germany Cruise branch of Bavarian travel company FTI Group, operates MS Berlin
Hansa Touristk Operational  Germany Privately owned (Kilian family), offers ocean cruises with MV Ocean Majesty and river cruises
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Operational  Germany Owned bei TUI Group
Holland America Line Operational  USA(originally  Netherlands) Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Hurtigruten Operational  Norway Also marketed as Norwegian Coastal Express
Majestic International Cruises Operational  Greece
St Hilda Sea Adventures Operational  United Kingdom Dunoon (Scotland), offers Scottish island cruises
The Majestic Line Operational  United Kingdom Dunoon (Scotland), offers Scottish island cruises
Mano Maritime Operational  Israel
MSC Cruises Operational  Italy Privately owned (Aponte family)
Nanhai Cruises[8] Operational  China State owned, exclusively run South China Sea cruises
North Pacific Expeditions Operational  USA Privately owned (Teevin family), offers Alaska cruises with M/Y Sea Star
Norwegian Cruise Line Operational  USA (originally  Norway) Partially owned by Genting Hong Kong
Oceania Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd
P&O Cruises Operational  United Kingdom Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
P&O Cruises Australia Operational  Australia Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Paul Gauguin Cruises Operational  United States Branch of Regent Seven Seas Cruises till 2010, offers South Pacific cruises
Pearl Seas Cruises Operational  United States Offers Great Lakes, New England and Cuba cruises
Phoenix Reisen Operational  Germany Privately owned (Zurnieden family)
Plantours Kreuzfahrten Operational  Germany Operates MS Hamburg and several river cruise ships
Poseidon Expeditions Operational  United Kingdom Arctic cruises with nuclear icebraker 50 Let Pobedy
Princess Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Pullmantur Cruises Operational  Spain Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Quark Expeditions Operational  USA Expedition cruising
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd
Royal Caribbean International Operational  USA (originally  Norway) Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Saga Cruises Operational  United Kingdom Owned by Saga Group
Seabourn Cruise Line Operational  USA Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
SeaDream Yacht Club Operational  Norway Privately owned (Atle Brynestad)
Silversea Cruises Operational  Monaco Privately owned (Lefebvre family)
SkySea Cruise Line Operational  China A joint venture of Ctrip inc. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.,which will die around the end of 2018[9]
Star Cruises Operational  Hong Kong Owned by Genting Hong Kong
Thomson Cruises Operational  United Kingdom Owned by TUI Group
Transocean Tours Operational  Germany Since 2014 German branch of Cruise & Maritime Voyages
TUI Cruises Operational  Germany Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI Group
UnCruise Adventures Operational  USA
Viking Ocean Cruises Operational  USA Branch of Viking Cruises
Windstar Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc.
Voyages to Antiquity Operational  United Kingdom

List of river cruise lines

Name Status Headquarters Notes
1AVista Operational  Germany River cruises in Europe
AmaWaterways Operational  USA River cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa
American Cruise Lines Operational  USA Paddle-steamer cruises on US rivers
Aqua Expeditions Operational  Peru Privately owned (Francesco Galli Zugaro), eco-friendly river cruises on Amazon and Mekong rivers
A-ROSA Flussschiff Operational  Germany River cruises in Europe, offered ocean-going cruises with A-Rosa blu 2002-04
Australian Pacific Touring(APT) Operational  Australia Privately owned (McGeary family), river cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa, shares many ships with AmaWaterways
Avalon Waterways Operational  USA River cruises in Europe, Egypt, Asia and South America
CroisiEurope Operational  France Privately owned (Schmitter family), river cruises in Europe and Asia
Crystal Cruises Operational  Japan Owned by Genting Hong Kong, river cruises in Europe
Emerald Waterways Operational  USA Owned by Australian river cruise operator Scenic, river cruises in Europe and Asia
European Waterways Operational  United Kingdom Operates converted trading barges on European Rivers
Grand Circle Cruise Line Operational  USA Owned by Grand Circle Corporation, river cruises in Europe
Great Lakes Cruise Company Operational  USA Privately owned (Conlin family), Great Lakes and river cruises in USA and Canada
Hansa Touristk Operational  Germany Privately owned (Kilian family), offers ocean and river cruises (Europe, Asia)
Lüftner Cruises Operational  Austria Privately owned (Lüftner family), river cruises in Europe
nicko cruises Operational  Germany Owned by Mystic Invest, river cruises in Europe and Asia
Orthodox Cruise Company Operational  Russia River cruises in Russia
Phoenix Reisen Operational  Germany Privately owned (Zurnieden family), river cruises in Europe, Egypt, Asia and South America
Plantours Kreuzfahrten Operational  Germany Offers ocean and river cruises (Europe, Asia)
Reisebüro Mittelthurgau Operational   Switzerland Owned by Twerenbold Group, river cruises in Europe
Riviera Travel Operational  United Kingdom Luxury river cruises in Europe – Which? Travel Brand of the Year 2017[12].
Scenic Operational  Australia Owned by coach tour operator Transit Scenic Tours, river cruises in Europe and Asia
Tauck River Cruises Operational  USA Privately owned (Tauck family), river cruises in Europe
The River Cruise Line Operational  United Kingdom River cruises in Europe
Transocean Tours Operational  Germany Since 2014 German branch of Cruise & Maritime Voyages, river cruises in Europe
Uniworld River Cruises Operational  USA River cruises in Europe, Egypt and Asia
Viking River Cruises Operational  USA Branch of Viking Cruises, river cruises in Europe, Egypt and Asia
Vodohod Operational  Russia Owned by UCL Holding, river cruises in Russia