Friday, December 30, 2011

Wave season is upon us, time to book that cruise!

The cruise industry’s heaviest booking period, called “wave season”, is typically January through March. It is also when cruise lines offer some of their best deals. Best deals and heavy booking means you will want to jump in quickly, especially since cruise fares are steadily rising this year and you won’t find much last minute discounting. Early booking also helps ensure the ship, itinerary and stateroom location that you desire.

Early bird pricing, upgrades, two-for-one deals, free airfare -- the industry would love to book a boatload of reservations for summer, fall and even 2013 cruises. But do you really need to book this far ahead? What about those fantastic last-minute deals you keep hearing about?

First, everyone needs to forget 2009's rock-bottom deals. The recession brought the cruise industry to a low, along with the rest of us. But 2010 was up for the industry, and 2011 bookings were even better, industry analysts say. Whether you book now depends on what you want. Thinking Alaska this summer? The Mediterranean? Family cruise? Those are hot sellers, so now is the time to buy.

One thing to remember is to always book with a travel agent. Most of the cruise lines have a flat pricing policy, which means the fare is the same whether you buy from the cruise line or a travel agent. But where travel agents can still be creative is by offering extras, like pre-paid gratuities, discount on shore excursions and in some cases group or block space rates.

Looking for a travel agent, we can assit you with your travel needs. Just let us know! You can visit us on the web at, email at or give us a call at 888-882-5793. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you plan your dream vacation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Disney World Trip

I do not normally write about my land vacations on this blog, but for this trip, I really felt that I had to.

My husband and I took our 2 1/2 year old daughter to Disney World last week for her first time. I really wanted to go during the holiday season, as I love the way Disney decorates. And, since our daughter loves Mickey Mouse and friends and is really into the Disney Princesses, I thought this would be a great time to go.

Yes, it was packed ... more so because of the holidays. We arrived at the park (after parking and monorail) at about 10:30am. I think I was more excited than anyone to get there. We had a great day planned. I was able to secure reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table for lunch with the Princesses, and dinner was at Chef Mickeys. We did take in a few kiddie rides with our little one, then off to lunch. What a great experience for her. Included in the lunch fare is a portrait with Cinderella. Lunch was great, and four princesses visited the tables (Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine). Great photo opps with each, although our daughter kept picking up her pizza for the pictures!

After lunch, back to the park and walked around. We decided we would catch one of the shows by the castle. At this point, our daughter was tired, but there was no way she was going to take a nap with all of the excitement. So, she went into a little melt down. So, being that we were at Disney, one of the gentlemen that was making sure the streets were clean, came over to our crying daughter, reached into his pocket and handed her a few metallic colored Mickey Mouse ears. The crying stopped. This is an example of what Disney is all about. Every employee in the park knows how to make the experience "magical" and memorable.

When it was time for dinner, back to the monorail to go to the Contemporary Resort where Chef Mickeys is located. This is a buffet style meal, and five characters visited us this evening. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald. This was a great
experience as well.

I think the point of my posting is that Disney is a fantastic vacation, whether you are visiting a park or taking the cruise. Yes, Disney is more costly than other vacations or cruise lines, but you do get what you pay for. It was an amazing experience. We are scheduled to be on the Disney Dream for our second cruise in April with our little one, and after the Disney park experience, we are looking forward to it even more.

Don't forget that we do handle land vacations as well as cruises. So, when you are ready for your Disney trip, give me a call and let CruiseOne Freer & Associates help you with the process! or toll free, 888-882-5793.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Regent Seven Seas Mariner

We recently got an opportunity to do a ship tour and have lunch on board Regent Seven Seas Mariner. We jumped at the chance, as it is not often that a luxury ship opens for viewing.

First, some facts about the ship. She is 709 feet in length and 93 feet wide. She only carries 700 guests and weighs in at 48,075 tons. She entered service in 2001, however she just underwent refurbishment a few weeks ago (this is as of December 19, 2011). Seven Seas Mariner is the world’s first all-suite, all balcony ship. She also has earned the distinction of being the first vessel to offer dining by Le Cordon Bleu ® of Paris in Signatures, one of four open seating restaurants. Hallmarks include generous amenities and a welcome spaciousness. Catering to only 700 guests, her staff to guest ration of 1 to 1.6 ensures the absolutely highest level of personal service.

So, what makes the ship luxury you may ask and is it worth the price? Well, yes, you will pay a higher rate up front than a contemporary or premium cruise line. However, you really need to look at what is included in that rate. In the rate are the following inclusions: Round trip air, unlimited shore excursions, luxury hotel package, ground transfers, beverages (including fine wine, beer, premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees and teas), in suite mini bar replenished daily, 24 hour room service, no charge for specialty restaurants, gratuities, pillow menu, and a staff that caters to your needs. Wow, talk about all inclusive!

How about we do a breakdown of cost? Let’s compare a Mediterranean sailing between Regent Seven Seas Mariner and Holland America Eurodam. Both sailings leave about the same time in Spring of 2012 and sail for 10 nights.

Here is a breakdown of per person costs for Holland America
Ports Visited: 8
Cruise Fare for a Superior Veranda: $2,999.00
Government Fees: $87.00
Air from U.S. East Coast: $1,389.00
Ground Transfers: $138.00
Shore Excursions: $695.00
1 Night Pre Cruise Luxury Hotel: $300.00
Gratuities: $110.00
Bar Drinks: $288.00
Soft Drinks / Bottled Water: $115.00
Alternative Dining (3 nights): $60.00

Total Per Person: $6,181.00, or $618.00 per day

Here is a breakdown of per person costs for Regent Seven Seas Mariner
Ports Visited: 9
Cruise Fare for a Superior Veranda: $5,499.00
Government Fees: $163.00
Air from U.S. East Coast: INCLUDED
Ground Transfers: INCLUDED
Shore Excursions: INCLUDED
1 Night Pre Cruise Luxury Hotel: INCLUDED
Gratuities: INCLUDED
Bar Drinks: INCLUDED
Soft Drinks / Bottled Water: INCLUDED
Alternative Dining (3 nights): INCLUDED

Total Per Person: $5,662.00, or $899.00 per day

When you do the actual breakdown of costs, there are often times when luxury can come out less expensive, and you get the luxury experience. I for one know that I have been in “sticker shock” when I get my bar bill at the end of a cruise! And lots of times we don’t do the shore excursions because we do not want to be out of pocket the extra money.

If you are thinking of a suite on a premium line, let me do the comparison for you. No. luxury ships are not for everyone. They are usually smaller, and while there are activities, there are not as many as on larger ships. Also, keep in mind that smaller ships usually visit more ports on a sailing, so you will be spending less time on board the ship.

So, with all that said, what did we think of the tour? We were pleasantly surprised. You do notice the attention to detail in the fabrics and the woods. The staterooms (well, they are called suites) are larger than normal staterooms on other premium lines. The silver in the dining room is actually real silver. There is a casual environment on board. It is nowhere near “stuffy” and you do not have to be formal on board. The food was wonderful and the service was fantastic. I was not very thrilled that we actually had to leave the ship!

Interested in looking at an itinerary and pricing? Give me a call and let me work out some comparisons for you. Remember, as a travel agent, I have your best interest. I am not working for a single cruise line. While I do represent all major cruise lines, who I really represent is you. I do not charge a fee, and it is my goal to match the right ship and itinerary with the individual or family I am working with. Let me show you why CruiseOne is the Nation’s largest cruise retailer.

You can reach me anytime toll free at 888-882-5793, visit me on the web at for our contemporary and premium cruise lines or at for our luxury cruise lines. You can also visit us on Facebook, like us and be kept up to date on specials.

I look forward to hearing from you and helping you plan your dream vacation!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Like us on Facebook

If you are interested in hearing about great travel deals, without being slammed by emails, check us out on Facebook. Like us and you will be able to be kept up to date on special offers, such as on board credits, spending reimbursments, great sales, and so on. You can also start and join discussions, or let us know what you are interested in.

We look forward to seeing you on our page!

Kathy Freer, ACC
CruiseOne Freer & Associates