Archive for October, 2011

Cruisin’ with ToaD

Want to Cruise with ToaD?

Cruising is a very popular vacation “destination”.  Some cruise by themselves, some with their extended family or friends, but you can also cruise with Travel on a Dream!

First and foremost, we deliver top quality customer service to help you with all steps of planning from choosing the right itinerary, right cabin and right ship to questions about documents, carry ons and shore excursions.

On select sailings you can truly go “Cruisin’ with ToaD”!

We currently have two sailings set so you can cruise with ToaD. On October 20, 2012, we will be cruising on the Disney Fantasy, the newest ship in the DCL fleet, on an Eastern Caribbean sailing with stops at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Castaway Cay. On April 27, 2013, we will be cruising on the Oasis of the Seas, one of the two largest cruise ships in the world, on a Western Caribbean sailing with stops in Labadee, Falmouth, and Cozumel. We’d love to have you join us! There will be extras on these sailing which are included in your cruise fare. For more information on these or other sailings, please email info@travelonadream.com or check us out on Facebook for groups on each of these sailings.

Now More North American Tours Options

Group tours have always been popular in places like Europe, Australia and Asia, but we haven’t seen very many offerings in North America.  In 2012 this will change.  Adventures by Disney, Brendan, Tauck Tours and Trafalgar have already offered tours throughout the United States and Canada, but in 2012 we will also see tours offered by G Adventures and Globus family of brands, including Cosmos, their budget line of tours.

Cosmos’ program is 75% focused on North America’s scenery and national parks.  Cosmos will be partnering with the National Parks Foundation to give travelers the chance to not only see our national parks, but also to give back and preserve them for future generations.  Through this partnership, called the GoParks! Tours, the Globus family of brands and Cosmos will make a donation to the National Park Foundation for each guest at no cost to you.

They will be offering 15 different vacations from 8 to 14 days and priced from $1089 to $1899 per person.  New offerings include a 10 day Wildlife of British Columbia vacation and 13 special departure vacations for special events in Calgary, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Tennessee and Florida.  An early booking discount of $50 off applies to North American Cosmos trips.

Contact us at Travel on a Dream for more information on these tours and others.

Running for Rescues

Last week a friend of mine asked me to fan a page of hers on Facebook.  The page is Running for Rescues.  I liked it and recommended it to my friends because I felt it was a good cause.  I hoped she would get more fans.  Despite the front she puts on sometimes, this friend is a softie at heart.  I asked her to give me more information about this non-profit organization.  She gave me their mission statement.

Running for Rescues

Running for Rescues is a non-profit dedicated to funding small grassroots organizations & individuals around the country, which rescue shelter animals that would otherwise be needlessly euthanized.  More specifically, we will pay for vetting, spay/neuter and transportation of these animals.  We reach out to the running community to network & do fundraisers for us by challenging themselves with any race or distance they choose.  We also invite non-runners to make a healthy lifestyle choice by committing to completing a local 5K – inspiring people around them to donate & perhaps begin an exercise program themselves. 

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More Enhancements Seen on Cruise Ships

It used to be when picking out a cruise you only had to decide which itinerary and cruise line as everything was pretty much the same between ships. You had pools, a buffet, a place to sleep and some entertainment. In recent years, there are many more things to consider other than just the itinerary and cruise line. With the new mega ships in the industry, we are now seeing things you may have never thought possible on a cruise ship – a real grass lawn, a water coaster on a ship, a carousel on a ship and ice rinks! Now you need to look at the itinerary, cruise line and individual ship to find what you want.

Royal Caribbean has been giving many of its ships Oasis class upgrades. These upgrades, known as the Royal Advantage, are adding new dining options, entertainment, nurseries and technology to existing ships. Four ships have received these upgrades, with more to come in the next three years. From the Dreamworks Experience to the Wayfinder system and much more, the Royal Advantage will be bringing so much more for you to enjoy on your cruise.

Carnival Liberty just completed it’s Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, which included more dining, bar and entertainment enhancements. Included in these upgrades were the RedFrog Rum Bar and Guy’s Burger Joint. Carnival has partnered with Guy Fieri, George Lopez and Hasbro to develop new and exciting venues for you to enjoy on your next Carnival Cruise.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for new venues, experiences and technology on the upcoming new ships and future updates on existing ships. Our top favorite recent additions to cruise ships would have to be the Virtual Portholes on the Disney Dream and the Wayfinder system on the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. What will top these, we can’t wait to see!

When Did You Become A Disney Fan?

In the last nine years, basically since we started cruising, we have met a lot of Disney fans.  Some have told me stories about how they used to get together as a family and watch the Wonderful World of Disney as a child.  Others recall going to Disneyland or Walt Disney World as a child.  For me, my Disney addiction happened much later in life.

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Upcoming Ship Tours!

I think that when every you try to find the perfect cruise for someone, it is much easier if you have first-hand knowledge of the itineraries and ships.  By no means is it required.  There are some very good travel agents that haven’t been on a cruise that still do a good job.  I feel that there are so many subjective things out there though about a cruise that it’s almost better to experience a cruise for yourself and keep an open mind.

For example, I can say that I didn’t like the food on Royal Caribbean but my mother and sister loved it.  I thought the food on Disney Cruise Line was very good but my sister said it was just ok.  Now what I say is that Disney uses a lot more sauces and flavor combinations while Royal Caribbean is more of a meat a potato meal.  This doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it just gives you a better idea of what the food is like and you can choose which is a better fit with your palate.

The same goes with itineraries.  I have heard that Alaska was an amazing cruise destination.  I learned about Alaskan cruises through courses from Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines.  Personally, I didn’t see why an Alaskan cruise was that great.  Sure you could see whales and other wildlife, but a top cruise destination?  I decided to try it out for myself in May this year and you know what?  This is one of the top cruise destinations I have ever been to.  Granted there are a few I haven’t been to, but after 25 cruises, this is in my top three.

It is for these reasons that we try out different cruise lines, different itineraries and do ship tours.  This doesn’t mean I’m going on another cruise anytime soon, it means I’m off to tour a couple more ships.  The opportunity has come up for me to tour the Norwegian Epic and Crystal Symphony.  In less than a couple weeks I’ll be spending part of a day on each one of these.

Norwegian Epic is the newest and largest of the NCL fleet.  Epic has a lot of features that are very different than other cruise ships.  One is the studios category of rooms made for one person with no single supplement fees.  Another is the layout of the cabins and the bathrooms.  I’ll hold off on describing these until I see them in person.  I’m hoping we’ll get to see the Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship within a ship so to speak.  This is the area where all the suites are located, with their own courtyard containing loungers and pools.

Crystal Cruises will be changing to an all-inclusive line in the Spring of 2012.  This cruise line is considered a luxury brand and has two smaller ships.  The sale pricing on some of their 7 night cruises this year have been incredible for a luxury line so we are excited to see what this ship has to offer.

Before I tour the ships, I will be attending a cruise travel conference.  Representatives from many cruise lines will be there and I’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions I have.  I’d also like to get answers to any questions you might have (yes, I will ask the Disney rep about the rest of 2013!).

What would like to learn about the Norwegian Epic or Crystal Symphony?  What information would you be interested in finding out from any other cruise line?

When Will The Rest of 2013 Come Out?

This has been the biggest question we have heard since Tuesday’s announcement of the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream itineraries for 2013.  Seasoned Disney cruisers are waiting for something new.  When I ask my clients what do they want to see, the number one response is “Eastern Mediterranean”.  I think the most important thing for many of these cruisers is that they have options for new itineraries.

I am the same way.  I have been to the Caribbean, Alaska and the Mediterranean.  I’ve been through the Panama Canal twice.  Would I go again?  Yes, but only if the ports of call on the way are different than what I’ve experienced before.  This is why the Galveston sailings of the Disney Magic don’t interest me.  I have to travel to get to Galveston or Port Canaveral so that’s not important to me.  If I want to go to the Western Caribbean – specifically Grand Cayman and Cozumel – I will go to Florida and go on the Disney Fantasy before I’ll go to Galveston for the same ports of call.

Speaking of Galveston, I hope that Disney changes the itinerary for 2013 on the Disney Magic.  Galveston cruises were an exciting prospect until the itineraries were announced.  I think a lot of people felt the way that I did about that.  Some of the New York City sailings are popular, but I still think that more people would like to see the Disney Magic return to Europe with a new itinerary.

We have heard rumors of sailings to the Eastern and Western Mediterranean.  This was furthered by Disney Cruise Line’s own survey of past guests, asking their opinion of this possibility.  With both an Eastern and Western Mediterranean itinerary offered, there are possibilities of doing back to back sailings and not repeating the same ports of call.  A lot of cruisers have done the transatlantic sailing and either the first or last Mediterranean sailing, making for an extended European vacation without having to fly both ways to Europe.  Having a rotating itinerary throughout the summer will spread out the demand from just the first and last Mediterranean cruises.  Another disappointment in 2010 was when Disney Cruise Line chartered the last Mediterranean cruise.  This left one back to back option with different ports of call.  Hopefully that won’t happen again.

So the answer to the question – When will the rest of 2013 itineraries come out?  Your guess is as good as mine!  We have heard rumors with the release being as early as today to as late as “next Spring”.  We monitor all information and once we have more specific information about release dates, we will be advising everyone.

Here are some tips to get yourself ready though. If you are working with a travel agent, let them know what you want to do as soon as possible, even before the dates and itineraries are announced.  This will get you in line with the rest of their clients.  Not every travel agent has a waitlist though so be prepared.  What you want to figure out is the following:

  • Which itineraries you would be interested in – don’t just stick with your top choice, spell out what all you would be interested in doing.
  • Which dates you are interested in – be specific but also allow for other choices.  My clients will give me their first, second, etc. choices in dates.
  • Which categories you are interested in – again, either specify rooms or categories you want but also allow for alternatives if your choices aren’t available.
  • Make sure your agent has all of your information – if you just want a quote, your agent won’t be able to guarantee pricing without having legal names and dates of birth/ages at a minimum.  We can get you a courtesy hold, but not if you tell us “I have 2 adults and 2 kids, age 14 and 10”.  Prices can and do go up without holding the reservation so make sure your agent is ready to hold something for you.
  • Have patience but don’t expect miracles – if you email your agent on the day the itineraries are available, you will likely be at the bottom of their list.  You can’t expect them to move you to the top at that point.

I have heard that some people emailed their agents before the release on Tuesday and didn’t get a response back right away.  They waited to hear back from the agent only to find out that the agent wasn’t ready for the release.  You need to feel confident in your travel agent.  If you don’t, you will not feel comfortable waiting for them to get things done for you.

If you are a previous cruiser, you can check in your Castaway Club area on the web to see when your booking is made.  Of course, if your agent doesn’t have this information (they will need your date of birth and your Castaway Club identification number to book this online), it won’t show up in your profile, even if they have a reservation for you, until they are able to link up your Castaway Club number with your reservation.

We have a mailing list and as we get more information on possible itineraries or release dates we send out emails to the list.  To get on the list, please email info@travelonadream.com.

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