Archive for August, 2012

On My Insurance Soapbox Again…

With Hurricane Isaac hitting Louisiana and the 7 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I thought it was a good opportunity to bring up travel insurance once again.

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New Walt Disney World Fall Discount

New savings at Walt Disney World resorts have been released this morning.  These discounts of up to 30% are available at most resorts for most nights between September 30, 2012 through November 16, 2012 and November 24, 2012 through December 22, 2012.

Rooms available is limited and this offer must be booked by September 29, 2012.  Discount is not available on the 3-bedroom villas or the Art of Animation Little Mermaid Standard rooms.  Contact Travel On A Dream for your quote today!

My Awesome Bar Program

The Carnival Victory has been testing a new program this month.  What do you think?

For $42.95 per person, per day, plus 15% gratuity, you will get unlimited beer, wine and mixed drinks priced under $10.  You can also get a 25% discount on drinks priced over $10 (individual drinks only, not packages).  The package must be purchased for all adults in a cabin so there is no sharing of the package.

So for just under $50 a day, per adult, you don’t have to worry about spending too much at the bars.  Other cruise lines, like Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, already have unlimited drink packages as well.  Celebrity offers a number of packages starting at $14 per night for a Classic Non-Alcoholic Package up to $54 per night for a Premium Package (plus 15% gratuity), but do not have a restriction that all adults in the cabin must purchase.  Royal Caribbean offers three packages on just a few ships and are comparable.

I personally have a problem with the soda packages when I am on a cruise line that offers this as I rarely drink enough to make the package worthwhile.  I certainly cannot see myself having at least six alcoholic drinks per day, every day on a cruise (on our last cruise, drinks we had were approximately $9 each).  To make the package beneficial, that’s what I would need to do.

What are your thoughts on this?

Who’s Who on a Cruise

I was asked recently what the differences are being the various server positions on a cruise.  While it can vary from cruise line to cruise line, there are general positions that are consistent between the lines.  The same goes for the entire hierarchy of the ship.  Some positions have a different title from cruise line to cruise line, but the duties are generally the same.

Let’s start from the top.  The Captain is the master of the ship.  He oversees all departments and he is in control of the ship at all times.  In fact, if the president of the cruise line is onboard, the captain is still in charge.  The only exception, and it really isn’t an exception, is that when coming and going to port, a pilot will get on and will assist and sometimes take control of maneuvering the ship, however, the captain is still in control of the ship.

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Day Pass To Atlantis in the Bahamas

A client recently asked me about this and it wasn’t the first time so I thought I would share information with everyone on how to do this.

As you might know, when you book a shore excursion through the cruise lines directly, there is usually an upcharge for this.  I do recommend using the cruise lines if you are unfamiliar with an area or if you have some tricky times to accommodate (doing on your own, you wouldn’t make the start time or get back on time, etc.).  I wouldn’t consider going to a different island in a port I am not familiar with as this would cause too much stress if you thought you missed your ferry back.  This would cost too much as well if you missed the ship as a result.

In Nassau, going to Paradise Island and visiting Atlantis is a very popular thing to do.  You can easily get a taxi or a ferry boat at the port to head over there.  The ferry boat is $4 per person each way.  A taxi will run you between $4 per person and $15 for the taxi (exclusive).

What can you do at Atlantis?  For free, there is very limited things you can do.  You can go to the casino (but you can argue that is really not free!).  You can see a small portion of the aquarium.  You can get something to eat (though bring your credit card as cash is not accepted).

Atlantis does offer swim with the dolphins at varying levels.  You can book this even if you are not staying at the resort.  They have shallow water interactions up to ultimate trainer for the day, sea lion interactions and stingray experiences.

They also have packages that include the aquapark, slides, pools, beach and aquarium.  There are three levels of passes – the DIGS pass (DIGS Aquarium and predator lagoon).  This runs $40 per person.  The Beach Pass includes the DIGS Aquarium and beach for approximately $70 per person.  The Ultimate Day Pass includes the aquapark, slides, pools, beach and aquarium.  This does not include Dolphin Cay or the Cain pool plus any paid experience.  A day pass can be purchased at Atlantic for $120 for adults/$80 for children (higher prices in the summer).  There are blacked out dates and the passes are limited each day.

So how do you make sure you get one?  There are two options for this.  First, you can get a room at Atlantis or other neighboring hotels with access.  Harbourside is one hotel but the more common one used is the Comfort Suites.  You can get up to 4 passes per room, based on the number of people listed on your reservation.  Basically, you book a room for the night you are arriving (you are at Nassau on 8/14, you book for 8/14).  You can check in early, but your room many not be available.  Everyone who is checking in must be there at the check in to get your wristband.  This will allow you the ultimate access to Atlantis.  We can definitely help you with this booking, just let us know how many people you will have.  You might not be able to use the room at all, but at least you’ll get the perks!

One other option is to use Majestic Tours.  They will confirm your day pass in advance, charging you the same price as Atlantis does directly, though you have an option to add transfers for $15 more per person (roundtrip).  The also offer the DIGS pass as well.

Lots of great options to get over to see Atlantis.

Last Chance for Late Summer Discount at Disney World

If you are thinking of making a trip to Walt Disney World before the end of September, this is your last chance to get a discount up to 30%.  For bookings through tomorrow, August 14, 2012, you can save up to 30% at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for stays between August 15 and September 29, 2012.  Additionally, you can add Theme Park tickets and dining as well.  Contact us today for your quote.

Should You Be Able To Buy Access?

This week, Carnival Cruise Lines announced a new program where you can buy access to fewer lines and priority access.  This program called Faster to the Fun, allows you to pay approximately $50 per cabin to get priority security, check-in, express boarding, first access to stateroom and Guest Services, express luggage, priority dining reservations, priority tender and debarkation choices.  I posted this on our Facebook wall and got quite a response.  The responses got me thinking.

Some of our friends said that is wasn’t fair to the higher levels of the priority clubs that get these perks already (though admittedly, they get many other perks plus some of these are new perks).  I would think that if the price was reasonable, some of those who wouldn’t normally get the access would say it should be offered for a fee but those who would get the access already would say it wasn’t fair to them.  But this goes much further.  Let’s only look at travel options.

Let’s look at airlines.  Some people spend a considerable amount more to purchase a first class ticket from the start.  Others have enough frequent flier miles to upgrade for a reduced amount to the same first class ticket.  Yet others are willing to pay a fee to get that same first class seat.  This has happened for a very long time.  The person who pays initially for the first class ticket knows what they want and are going to get it at any cost.  The frequent flyer flies that airline on a regular basis and as a perk they are offered upgrades and free flights to reward their loyalty.  But what about the person who is flying the lowest cost travel each time and purchases the upgrade.  Should they be allowed to do so?  And if you say no, should the airlines fly with empty first class seats?

To a much smaller degree, even the Early Bird check in for Southwest is an example of this.  Normally, you have to go online 24 hours prior to your flight to get your boarding number, but they offer a service where you don’t have to go online.  You pay $10 per person and they get your boarding number for you.  Yes, you don’t get the first numbers, but you do get in the first grouping.  When I’m on a cruise, I don’t want to rely on the internet access to be sure I get a good boarding number.

I do realize this is different since they are purchasing an actual location, not a service, but it is very similar.  Car rental companies are the same way.  You can rent frequently and earn perks with some of the companies, and you can also purchase memberships into their elite group, allowing you to bypass counters and go directly to your car.  Some of these programs will also give you discount codes.  By using a specific credit card, I have free access to an elite group that normally would require a set number of rentals to be accepted.  I get the same access, only because of the credit card that I am using.  In a way, the program is limited.  I will get a courtesy upgrade if one is available.  If I am renting from a smaller location, there may not be an upgrade available to a member who earned membership in that elite group if I get there first and get the upgrade.  Is this fair?

Next we will move on to the cruise lines.  If select levels of previous cruisers are automatically given some perks, is it fair that the same perks could be offered to those in a lower level for a fee?  Or should the perks offered for a fee only be available to everyone for a fee, with maybe a reduced fee for those in the upper loyalty levels?  I know some guests will book a certain way, just to earn credits quicker.  For example, I have clients that will book a junior suite on Royal Caribbean because that will earn them double credit to get to a higher loyalty level.  On Celebrity, booking a concierge room may not be that much more than a balcony stateroom, but will also give you more credits.

People want better access, better perks, better experiences and there are people that are willing to pay for this access.  If the access, perks and experiences are still just as good for the elite loyalty club members, is it acceptable that these companies offer some extras for a fee?  I wouldn’t want to see someone pay to get all of the access the higher levels get (pay to become a “loyal” customer), but I don’t have a problem with paying to get select perks.


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