Nickels and Dimes

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Nickels and Dimes

Cruise vacations are great vacations because they are all-inclusive

– – Or are they?

 

It is true that cruises are basically all-inclusive, however, that refers to the basic cruise cost on most cruise lines. It is the incidental items that are not included and these nickels and dimes add up. Luxury cruise lines such as Crystal, Regent, Silverseas, Seabourn, Paul Gauguin, Seadream Yacht, Oceania, Azamara, Hapag-Lloyd, Ponant Cruises and others are all-inclusive and there are no extra charges for alcohol, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, soft drinks, bottled water, etc.

Therefore, when comparing the relative cost between Standard, Premium And Luxury cruise lines is very important to consider what is actually included in the ”all-inclusive” cruise fare. Standard & Premium cruise lines will charge extra for alcohol, soft drinks, bottled water, shore excursions, dining in specialty restaurants, etc. The staterooms on luxury vessels will be larger, have more amenities, will have luxurious baths and will have balconies without paying an up charge from a standard ocean view stateroom to a balcony stateroom. In fact the balcony stateroom on a luxury cruise line may be comparable to a suite on the Standard or Premium cruise line.

Avoid a shock on the last day of your cruise when the bill is slipped on to your stateroom door. You may find that what you have spent for alcohol, soft drinks, water, specialty restaurants, shore excursions and have spent in the casino and spa totals as much as you paid for the cruise itself. If you know you will drink a lot, purchase the unlimited alcohol package. Purchase the soft drink package and bottled water package rather than paying as you go if you know that you will consume a fair amount.

Shore excursions can now be purchased in advance by going on the cruise line website, selecting and booking the excursions you want. However, shore excursions can also be purchased in advance by clicking on the shore excursion link on this website. You will find that the cost for the same excursions with the same tour operators is considerably less expensive than purchasing the tours through the cruise line.

When not purchasing a luxury cruise, the basic price of your cruise includes accommodations, room service, food and beverage, taxes and fees, nightly entertainment, use of the fitness center, etc. There may be 7-10 restaurants on a ship, but you may only eat in some of them without a surcharge. Shops are a great value because they are duty free, but those nickels & dimes still add up. And then there are the art auctions, the casinos, massages, spa treatments, Bingo, wine tastings and gratuities.

Pre-pay your gratuities so you have a fixed rate usually less than $10.00 per person per day. You will pay a lot more if you pay the gratuities on the ship. Select the cruise line that is your best fit.  Read “Cruises #101” and then the “Questions to Ask” and you will be well prepared to select the right vessel for you.

Now that you we’ve shown you where to look to decide which cruise line is best for you and you now know the what to look for when deciding on your best cruise vacation; why would you delay in booking?

Call us today at 561-625-8807  to book your best cruise vacation for Individuals or Groups.

October is National Cruise Month

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The Joy of Vacationing on a Cruise

 

October, is National Cruise Month, and is officially here! With an opportunity to save big on your next cruise, you have an opportunity to experience the joy of cruising.

October has impressive events and deal offers in store for cruisers. You can find impressive saving deals and spending credits for cruise ships with offers of values of up to $500, suite upgrades and several other incentives. October’s National Cruise Vacation Month has a centerpiece event coming up between October 21st to 27th – the NCVW, having well over 5,000 cruise lines and travel agencies participating in it from all over Canada and the US.  Several other cruise deals are to be announced in the coming days leading to the event. So, be sure to stay in touch with cruise lines and travel agents for latest updates!

Cruise shipsCruise Vacations

Looking for vacations that offer glamour, romance, and meet your cruise needs completely? What you need is a getaway on a luxurious cruise ship. You will have the experience of a lifetime right from the moment you step abroad, indulging your whims with amazing hospitality, food and wine.

Life on a cruise begins right from the moment you set eyes on your cruise ship. Going on a cruise has several benefits:

  • Spending hours at the airport or in a car is a very difficult way to start off a vacation.
  • Cruises are easy travel methods for all those who wish to make their trip relaxing and hassle-free.
  • A cruse is a great way to visit places all over the world.
  • Cruises offer an array of activities to make vacationing entertaining.
  • Cruise lines and travel agencies offer amazing vacationing deals.

Once you get to know your way around the ship, life on the ship will turn into a journey of fun and adventure.
Cruise lines offer you the opportunity to go on an exciting world tour. Here are some great locations to consider for your next cruise:

Canary Islands

Off the coast of West Africa, the ideally placed cluster of Canary Islands boasts it’s amazing landscapes and wildlife to make your cruising experience an exceptional one.

Alaska

Always a favorite destination among cruisers, Alaska offers awe-inspiring sights and activities that are exclusive to just this region of the world. Catch a glimpse of the marine life as you glide through the deep blue waters aboard your cruise ship.

BahamasBermuda cruise

Pristine sandy white beaches, glistening blue waters, exotic views and the best seafood – Bahamas has everything to make your cruise perfect.

Australia

Nothing compares to the amazing experience of sailing past Sydney’s iconic Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge.

New Zealand

Offering some of the most breath-taking sights in the world, a cruise to New Zealand should be at the top of your “must-visit” list.

Other cruising locations include the Caribbean, Middle East, Egypt, Mediterranean, Far East, Norway and several other locations worldwide.

Interested?  Need more information?  Contact Corporate Cruise Consultants today to join the adventure and fun of a cruise or click here.

Cruising Europe

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The Best Way to Visit Europe!

 

River Cruisesriver cruise europe

The best way to visit the capitals of Europe is on a River or Barge Cruise.  Motor Coach trips  have you packing and unpacking as you check in and out of different hotels each evening.  River cruises, like ocean cruises, move you from city to city unpacking only once. The newer river vessels are as modern as the new ocean vessels with several differences. They are much smaller averaging approximately 70 – 150 passengers and there is absolutely no motion. The newer vessels have “French Balconies” enabling passengers to feel the excitement as the vessel cruises past the cities and castles.

River Cruises navigate most of the major waterways of Europe as well as other rivers of the world such as the Nile, the Amazon, The Mississippi, the Columbia and the rivers of China and Asia. We cruised the Danube and the Elbe and docked in major cities like Budapest, Vienna and Prague as well as smaller cities like Dresden Passau and Melk. The entire trip was marked by phenomenal scenery in every direction and great time ashore. These vessels stop in the heart of the city and so much is within easy walking distance. Some river cruise lines include a shore excursion at each stop and all offer them as options. Because these cruises are all-inclusive, they are far less expensive than independent travel and you have ready access to experienced guides throughout the trip.

barge cruise chateauworksBarge Cruises

Barging is yet another unique experience. As with the river, barges traveling throughout the canals of Europe were a major avenue for moving goods from the rural agricultural areas to the major cities. These barges were originally powered by horses that walked along both sides of the canals. The barges left only an inch or two on each side between the barge and the canal walls. Today’s barges are powered and designed for comfort and range from 4 passengers to 30 depending on the canal. Because they are small, they are intimate very much like chartering a yacht for the ocean. They have their own crew, Captain and chef. They move only a few miles per hour so passengers can step off at any time onto the former horse paths. Simply grab one of the bicycles, ride into a small village and then catch up with the barge and board again. river cruise - bikes_by_canal

Meetings, Incentives & Groups

Both the river cruises and the barge cruises are perfect for individual or group corporate incentives or for charter.  Planners who think out of the box and are looking for something different should look into these options. Family groups and simply groups of friends find the barge cruises offers a “private” vacation that gives them the advantage of influencing the trip. We recommend European Barging for your European River and Barge Cruises.  Click here to inquire about European river and barge cruises.  It is important to use Promo Code #EURO1 when calling or using the online form.

Group Vacations

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Group Vacations – A Shift in Family Vacations

Family vacations have changed dramatically in the past several years. The current economy has driven many families to one of two very diverse options. One option is cruises, which I will discuss in the next paragraph, and the other is vacation home rentals. We have personally seen a dramatic increase in the rentals of our vacation homes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the summer of 2012.  In fact, the months of June, July, and August of this year were completely sold out and the winter months are more heavily booked than ever before.  July of 2013 is also half booked so the trend seems to be booking much farther in advance.  Most of our bookings come through rental sites such as HomeAway and can be viewed by clicking on the New WaterFront Mountain Home or the Mountain Log Cabin.  Still other requests are received from VRBO and FlipKey.  I would recommend any of these.  Many reservations are for anniversaries, graduations, and family reunions.  Others come to participate in Floyd Fest and other musical events in the area and the world’s largest flea market in Hillsville, VA each Fall. People bring their pets and simply enjoy the opportunity to get away from home and spend time in a more serene environment in the mountains. They can fish, ride four wheelers and go horseback riding, mountain biking and boating.

Family Cruise Vacationsgroup vacation cruise

Another area where we have seen a dramatic increase in families is cruising.  Cruises also offer a great vacation opportunity for families. It is difficult for small children to remain quiet in a hotel and it is little relief for mom. Cruises offer so many activities for children that it is difficult for them to join the family for meals because they are having so much fun. The last thing the children want to do is stop playing. The cruise ship is a secure environment where the children are constantly supervised by others, at no charge, leaving mom time to simply relax. There is no cooking, no washing, no cleaning and someone even makes the beds! Disney is the Cadillac for kids, but all cruise lines offer excellent children’s programs, usually divided into one for tots, one for tweens, and another for teens.

Meetings at Sea

cruise group vacationMore and more corporations now permit their employees to bring their families, not only on incentive trips but also on meetings at sea. The company may not pick up the cost of the family, but the single supplement on cruise ships is 200% of the per person double occupancy rate. So if the company is paying for their employee in a single stateroom, they are actually paying for two people whether or not there are two people in the stateroom.  As a result, the only additional expenses are for the third and fourth occupants and those costs are nominal.  The opportunity to bring one’s family is a great perk. It does not interfere with the meeting activities since the newer ships have excellent meeting space that they provided no charge. And the family members have so many activities that those attending the meetings are not even missed.

The ability to bring one’s family and the lower pricing of doing so also increases the number of people who participate in a meeting, if attendance is not mandatory. Just the fact that a meeting is on a cruise ship increases participation. The evenings offer family centered activities and events as do the days ashore. A cruise enables parents to enjoy unique opportunities with their children when not in meetings. Some companies even set sales goals at various levels to enable their employees to bring their families at  company expense. Cruises offer something for everyone.

Group Travel – Why Groups Pay More

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Travel Groups, of necessity must have a very different perspective than an individual planning leisure vacation travel. It is a common misperception that groups buy better. This is not true; groups pay more. The capacities of hotels, airlines and cruise lines are limited. And each must maintain an average yield in order to operate profitably. Cruise lines, hotels and airlines all offer discounted rates, but all are capacity controlled. An airline, for example may offer heavily discounted seats with advance purchase or based on certain dates of travel, but all are capacity controlled.

Therefore, an airline’s yield management department constantly monitors each flight’s load factors and yield and makes daily changes in the availability in all pricing categories. This provides an excellent opportunity for individual travelers who are able to be flexible on time and date, but most of these discounted fares are of no or little value for group travel. Travel groups have numerous obstacles to achieving the lowest airfares.

Group Travel Obstacles via Air

Travel Groups, of necessity, must book far in advance to secure hotel space. This is often prior to flight schedules and airfares even being available for the travel dates. Once booked, the dates cannot be changed without attrition penalties. The number of participants and the cities of origin are also often not known until much closer to the event by which time the lowest applicable airfares are sold out.

Group Travel - Airplane interiorThe airlines do offer zone fares, meeting and convention fares and group fares, but all are considerably higher than the published fares. Capacity is still controlled so it may be necessary to block space from cities of origin with a considerable number of participants originating. These group blocks require a deposit and have applicable penalties for dropping and/or reducing the block.

Group Travel Obstacles via Cruises

The cruise lines inventory management departments operate the same as airlines and hotels. Both hotels and cruise lines offer promotional rates, but again, the number of rooms or staterooms available at these promotional rates are extremely limited and they are not applicable to groups. Cruise lines do have an advantage because their overhead is low particularly due the labor costs and they are all-inclusive. They book and guarantee group rates years in advance and because they are all-inclusive, F & B, Entertainment, Audio Visual and the entire program other than transportation is locked in.

Group Travel Issues – The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you can negotiate group travel and someone who does this for a living will be able to secure substantial rate reductions and negotiate more favorable agreements, but do not expect these planners to achieve rates for a travel group that are in any way comparable to the promotional, capacity controlled published rates.