Archive for September, 2012

Answers to Where in the World is ToaD

Yes, we are getting ready for a new adventure and want to take you along with us. Tomorrow we fly to a destination where we have been before with completely new experiences! A lot of familiar places that have undergone many changes since we last saw them.

Where are we going? Here are the answers.  How did you do? Continue reading

Where in the World is ToaD?

Yes, we are getting ready for a new adventure and want to take you along with us.  Tomorrow we fly to a destination where we have been before with completely new experiences!  A lot of familiar places that have undergone many changes since we last saw them.

Where are we going?  We’ve got some photo hints for you.  See if you can guess!

Check out our blog tomorrow for the answers and follow along next week!

Airline Fees – Do They Go Too Far?

In recent years it seems that airlines are charging for just about everything you do.  First there were baggage fees.  Then came fees for having snacks or a meal on the plane.  There are fees to select your seats in advance of your flight.  Two airlines even charge you now for carryons!

It used to be when you looked at pricing for flights, the airlines would give you the lowest price, without taxes and fees added to hook you in with a low price.  The DOT has changed this practice and they are now required to post the total price for the flight but of course, they don’t have to list the extra fees you could incur while traveling.

I have to admit, the extra fees has caused me to take a closer look at the carriers I will fly with.  I generally don’t compare the price for bags, but I do take note if the airline charges for the flight at all.  I’ll consider paying a bit more for a carrier that doesn’t charge for bags than for one that does.  It’s more convenient.  I have an airline credit card so I don’t have to pay for the first bag on one carrier.

These fees have also made me expect more from the airline.  If I’m paying more for something, the service should increase as well.  I find that I have complained to airlines more in the last year than I ever have.

Personally, even if it means a bit more up front, I wish the airlines would roll the fees into the ticket price, instead of nickel and diming us to death.  When I look at a flight on Spirit Airlines, the prices can be incredibly low, but once I add on the cost for my checked luggage, carry on luggage, a snack on the plane, I could go cheaper with another carrier.

It also affects how I pack for my trip.  I take a little less, carry on a little more when I have to pay for it.  If there are no baggage fees, I’m more likely to take what I want and carry on very little.  For our upcoming trip, we weren’t planning to bring formal wear but since we are flying Southwest, why not!

What do you think?  Would you rather see all the fees bundled together or do you like it the way it is?

Disney FastPass+

We mentioned recently on our Facebook page that Disney was starting up trials of the FastPass+ system again.  One of our clients has been selected to test the system so we wanted to share with you what she has received.  Hopefully, she will give us feedback when she returns from her trip.

This is different than the last test as participants are receiving their passes before leaving home and can select the experiences before getting to Disney.

The test is still just at Magic Kingdom Park and guests can select up to 4 experiences.  Choices can be modified at any time.  They will choose two experiences from these groups:

  • The Barnstormer, Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mickey’s PhilharMagic or Town Square Theater:  Meet Mickey & Minnie
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Main Street Electrical Parade, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Town Square Theater: Meet the Disney Princesses, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Have you been selected for this program and used it yet with this trial?  We’d love to hear your opinion.

Paying for a Travel Agent’s Services

I get asked this question all the time “How do I pay for your services?”  This got me thinking, there must be a lot of people that really don’t understand how a travel agent works and, more importantly, gets paid.

My usual response to that question is “You won’t pay anything, my fees are paid by X (being the travel supplier)”.  What I started to question is if people really understood what that meant.

As an independent travel agency, we are not owned by any travel supplier or work for them.  We are not on their payroll.  Instead, we make a commission off of our sales of their products.  It doesn’t cost you any more to use a travel agent, the travel suppliers charge you the same whether you use a travel agent or just go to them directly.

What this doesn’t mean is that every time we talk to a potential client, we are making money from the travel supplier.  In order to make a commission, we need to book the travel for you and take you through the travel.  If you cancel beforehand, in most cases, we do not make anything from the travel supplier.  We have all also had potential “clients” that ask for information, quotes and advice and then go and book on their own.  Basically they feel the travel agent should work for free.  While it is totally understandable when you have to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, deliberately using an agent to get all the information you need and booking on your own is not fair.

The majority of the people who come to us for a quote do end up booking and traveling so we don’t feel the need in most cases to charge service fees.  The exception to this is travel where the suppliers do not pay a commission (airfare, some tickets, some hotel stays).  In those cases we would charge a service fee (and advise you in advance of this).

 

What Our Clients Say About Us

There are thousands of travel agents in the world that you can use, even thousands that are experts with your travel dreams, whether it be cruising, Disney trips, all-inclusives, anything!  What makes a particular agent a great agent is not just what they are expert in, but also how they interact with you, their clients.  I would like to share what some of our clients have had to say about our agents.  You can find this information on our website here.

I have used my agent as a travel agent on multiple occasions. Each time, I have been more than pleased. Continue reading

Two Days in San Francisco

Last year when we did the repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver on the Disney Magic, we had an overnight stay in San Francisco.  You can’t imagine how excited we were to spend so much time in the city!  When I found out that Disney would be doing Pacific Coast sailings, I was wishing we would be able to do it again, especially because they would be going to San Diego too.

California is an amazing state to visit.  You can be at the ocean one minute and in the mountains in less than an hour.  You have forests and deserts, big cities and small towns, orange groves and vineyards!  One could spend a lot of time exploring this state.

You can get a glimpse of California by going to Epcot and riding Soarin’ (or the original at Disney’s California Adventure, Soarin’ Over California).

The nice thing about doing this on a Disney Cruise is you get to three areas of the state in a week, without having to unpack.  In San Francisco, you will be there from 8:30 am on Tuesday until 10:30 pm on Wednesday.  This gives you plenty of time to check out the area, maybe even dine at a couple local restaurants before sailing back under the Golden Gate bridge.

From the ship, you’ll be able to see Alcatraz and many areas close to the port.

What can you do with only two days?  There are many shore excursions offered by Disney in San Francisco, but we decided to go on our own.

For those that are interested in seeing Napa or Sonoma, you could take an excursion going up to visit the wineries.  The cruise line offers a couple.  Last time, we got a group together and had a driver to take us around for the day.  We visited four wineries and had a lovely picnic lunch.  If you have a designated driver, you can get a one day car rental from one of the rental companies with offices near Fisherman’s Wharf.  Be aware though, that driving time to the south end of Sonoma will take at least 45 minutes with Napa and areas further north taking more time.  Traffic can be bad coming back at the end of the day.

Head over to the Walt Disney Family Museum.  Keep in mind that this is the history of the Disney family, not with a focus on the theme parks and characters.  Reservations should be made in advance, you can even sign up to do a shore excursion here with transportation included.

Fisherman’s Wharf is within walking distance west of the dock.  Here you can check out the seals basking in the sun or dine on some fantastic seafood.  You can get a ferry over to Alcatraz to tour this infamous prison.  Maybe you want to hop on a cable car and see a bit more of the city.  Or the hop on hop off bus.

If the Giants have a home game, get tickets and head over to the park.  If not, they do offer tours of the park as well.  How about a tour of a chocolate factory?  Get your reservations for TCHO chocolate factory tour.  You can also visit the aquarium at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Go to Chinatown and have some dim sum!

No matter what you do, you are going to realize that San Francisco is a city you will want to come back to, maybe for a longer stay or on another cruise.

Here was my view from our room in the morning.

There still is space on the Pacific Coast sailings this fall starting on September 15 for four sailings.  Not only will you get an overnight stay in San Francisco, your favorite Pixar characters will be onboard as well.  Give us a call today to book your sailing!

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