Did you know that only 20% of North Americans are cruisers? If you are planning your first cruise, you will soon see why so many return to cruising time and time again.
Use a Travel Agent. I am not just saying this because I am a Travel Agent. There are so many aspects of the cruise vacation that you may not be aware of and it is our role to advise you during the whole process.
Book at least six months in advance. This will ensure the rate and options you desire. Cruise lines want to make sure that all of their departures are full and they are not scrambling at the last minute to fill their cabins, for this reason you will get the best value six months or more from the time of sailing.
Review all of the details of your reservation. Your cabin location and view can change your experience. Do you like to walk? You want to be as far forward or aft as possible. Do you get sea sick? You will want to be mid-ship. If you have an Ocean View or Balcony, do you have anything obstructing your view?
Plan ahead. Your planning is not finished when you make your deposit. Remember your ship is leaving on time whether you are there or not, and you want to be there at least two hours prior to departure. If you are more than a 90 minute drive from the port, consider staying the night before in a hotel close to the cruise port. In addition to saving you the headache and worries that go along with trying to get to the port on time, most cruises leave from cities like Miami, New York and New Orleans where there are many attractions.
Make sure to tell your Travel Agent about any special needs that you may have such as dietary or medical requirements so they can make the proper arrangements for you. Maybe you have medications which require refrigeration or you use a CPAP machine, the ship will need to make special accommodations for you and need to know, in most cases, at least 30 days prior to travel.
Book your excursions. The more popular excursions sell out quickly, so if you find one that you definitely want to do, book it.
Check in online. Like your flight, you can check in to the cruise at the cruises website. This will allow you to board quicker and with more convenience.
Pack a carry on. Your suitcases will be checked and delivered to your room about 1-2 hours after boarding, so bring all essentials with you on a separate carry on. In the carry on you may also want to include one spare change of clothes.
Review your daily newsletter. There will be a newsletter delivered nightly to cabin. Look through it and decide which activities you want to participate. Get out as soon as possible to explore the ship. The cruise ships are moving resorts, there is a spa, shopping, dinning, gambling and many other activities. To get the most out of your vacation, you will want to know where everything is located.
Be ready for the safety demonstration. There is a safety demonstration which is mandatory. The quicker everyone arrives, the quicker it is over and you can start your cruise.
Start planning your next cruise. What? If you are enjoying your cruise, you can book your next one on board before you leave the ship. Why do this? Incentives! You get discounts, upgrades, on board credits and much more. Can’t decide on which cruise to take next? Do an open booking. On most cruise ships they will make a $100 deposit for your next cruise which will be applied to the fare and you can still partake in the amenities offered.
Finally, when you get home follow up with your Travel Agent. Let them know what you liked about the cruise and what you would do differently next time. This helps us to find you the best vacation the next time you are ready to book.
Now get out there and cruise!
You and your Travel Agent just found the perfect vacation and it is with in your budget, what an awesome feeling! The conversation turns to the dreaded travel insurance. “Do I really need that?” is the question most often asked at this point.
So what’s the answer? In most cases, the answer is an easy yes. Even if you are DEFINITELY going, you need insurance. Insurance does not only cover you for trip cancellation. Other coverages includes, trip delay, trip interruption, lost or delayed bags, medical coverage and emergency medical evacuation. Let’s consider each of these one at a time.
Trip cancellation would cover you in the event that you need to cancel for a covered reason. What if you get sick or lose your job and cannot go? Also ask about the cancel for any reason rider, this is usually very inexpensive to add.
Trip delay covers you if you are delayed for a covered reason. What if your flight is delayed and you miss your cruise?
Trip interruption coverage is for any part of your vacation that is unused due to an emergency and need to return home.
If your luggage is lost, stolen, damaged or delayed you are reimbursed for purchase of essential items.
Medical coverage is important any time you are traveling. Depending on your medical insurance, you may not be covered internationally, at sea or even outside of your home network area.
Emergency Medical Evacuation covers transportation to the nearest adequate medical facility. This is especially important if you are traveling international.
Actual benefits, reasons for coverage and limits will vary. Please consult your policy or insurance company for exact details.
Not the most exciting or pleasant conversation that your Travel Agent will have, but it is certainly necessary. So the next time you are asked to purchase travel insurance, rather than asking “Do I really need that?”, you can ask “What is the best policy to meet my needs?”
Why do we travel? Everyone has their reason: business, leisure, education, family. But there is something else, something that drives us to get away from our everyday. I can best describe it as perspective.
You can read about foreign lands, watch the news to get the current events and even view real time feeds from people all over the world, but until you go there you cannot truly know.
Like everyone, I go in to trips with a certain amount of preconceived notions. Some turn out to be correct, some are flat wrong. I am happiest with a trip when I am surprised by what I never thought was possible.
In Siem Reap, Cambodia I was impressed with the beauty, history, cuisine and most of all, the people.
April 9, 2016
Our flight arrives around 7:15 PM local time. After retrieving our bags and clearing customs we are greeted outside by a very friendly face in traditional Cambodian clothes. "Welcome Tim and Ginger" he said, "My name is Pe, I am your personal assistant". Driving through the streets decorated with lights and stars for Cambodian New Year, you quickly notice the streets crowded with scooters filled with smiling faces everywhere.
As we turn in to our hotel, Borei Angkor, Pe said "Welcome home Tim and Ginger". This would come to be a theme of our stay. Every request is met with a smile and a positive response. We are surprised by how quickly the staff know our names and our likes/needs.
April 10, 2016
Today is an early rise as we are to tour Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples, a highlight of our journey.
After breakfast we are informed that our private driver and our private tour guide are ready to go when we are ready. Judy, who works with Pe, insists on walking us down to meet our guide and driver.
During our drive to Angkor Watt, we are educated on the Cambodian culture and the Khmer (pronounced Keh-may) people. At Angkor Watt we walk around some of the most beautiful and sacred grounds of the Khmer people. The complex is three temples with the most important in the center. The guide expertly points out significant carvings and great photo opportunities, including the "center of the universe".
Upon returning to our vehicle, our driver welcomes us back with an ice cold towel and a fresh bottle of water. As the temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a most welcome and very thoughtful surprise.
Early afternoon, we return to our resort where we are met with a traditional Khmer lunch. This three course meal included flavor profiles which were new, but felt familiar. Crumbled chicken with cilantro, chilies and lime juice followed by a plate of marinated beef, chicken and fish and finished with a warm banana pudding.
After briefly digesting we head to the spa for our included one hour massage. We are greeted with tea, a hot towel and a foot washing. Almost every part of the body is covered including abdomen, feet, scalp, face and hands. The experience ends with another cup of tea and a hot towel.
After cocktail hour, we end this incredible day with yet another included three course meal including delicious steaks.
Later that evening, our driver took us to the night market. A market filled with arts, crafts, clothes and other goods. The real experience here is the art of bargaining. There are many great values to be had at this market, but be prepared to walk away in order to get the price you want.
April 11, 2016
Today we embark on a river cruise but not before checking out. Our personal driver is ready so we take our bags out of the room to our private check out area where we are met by Judy who wishes us good morning and takes our bags down to the first floor before we can even think to ask for assistance.
Our check out process is, as we have come to expect, effortless and pleasant. As I get up to leave, I am informed that there is one last surprise, a gift of a traditional Khmer scarf for both my wife and I. They are placed around both of our necks and we are walked to our car for the 10 minute ride to meet our group. Judy also gets in the car saying that she wishes to see us off.
When we are dropped off, we are given one last wish for a great journey. At this point we know that we may never experience the level of service of Borei Angkor. Friendly and natural, it was as if we were staying in the home of a very happy Khmer family.
Though we were there just one full day, we could not help but feel that these wonderful people have permanently touched our lives.
Have you ever wondered how to get the best deal on your next cruise? The better question is when should I book. The answer is Wave Season.
More cruises are booked January through March every year than the rest of the year combined. Why? The simple answer is that the cruise lines release their best prices and offers to entice you to make your reservation.
Your Travel Agent has been working on Wave Season for months now to make sure that they are able to make their best offers when you call. As we are preparing, you can as well:
1- Narrow your choices to a maximum of three cruises
2- Make an appointment to speak with your Travel Agent to discuss your cruise options
3- Clear the vacation dates with your employer to ensure that you can make your reservation
4- Be sure that all passports are up to date and in good condition
5- If you are traveling with extended family schedule a time to discuss how many cabins will be needed and the types of cabins
When you speak with your Travel Agent ask about any discounts for which you may be eligible. Common discounts include Senior, Resident, Military, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighter, Paramedic and Past Guest.
After making your booking, be sure to review your cruise every week to see if pricing has gone down or if additional offers may apply. In general, lower prices and additional promotions can be applied before final payment. Of course, this is on a case by case basis and the final decision will need to be made by the cruise line. Here at Revitalize Travel, all reservations are checked on a weekly basis to ensure that you always receive the best value for your vacation.
Make your appointment to discuss your next cruise by calling 631-383-3197 or clicking here.