Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mystery Money December 2014 Promo!

Happy Holidays everyone!  It has been a crazy year for me personally.  Some ups and some downs.  I just cannot believe how fast the year has gone by.

To end the year, CruiseOne has a Mystery Money on board spending promotion going on right now.  Here are the details:

The promotion runs from December 15, 2014, through December 31, 2014.  Cruises must be booked during this promotion window.

The promotion is applicable to sailings that depart from January 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.

On board credit amount ranges from $25 per stateroom, up to $200 per stateroom, and it is dependent on the cruise length and stateroom category booked.  This is an offer from CruiseOne, so if the cruise line has their own offer, it is combinable!

The great thing is that some holiday sailings (beginning of 2015) and some spring break sailings qualify.  So now is the time to reserve your cruise!

Visit my website, send me an email or give me a call, 888-882-5793 to check sailings and rates!

Happy sailing!
Kathy Freer
CruiseOne Freer & Associates

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Disney Dream, sailing in Concierge

We just returned from a three night sailing on board the Disney Dream.  For this trip it was me, my husband, our 11 year old son and 5 year old daughter.  This was our fourth cruise on board the Disney Dream, so we felt like regulars … except this time we chose to book into a Concierge Balcony Stateroom.  What a mistake that was!  I don’t think I can ever sail outside of concierge again!  It was fantastic, and we hardly used the services.  Being concierge virgins (as my husband put it) we were not so sure of our benefits other than what was visible.  So here is a review of our cruise, and I am including our concierge services that we took advantage of.

Now, if you have ever sailed Disney before, you know about the typical Disney lines.  You get in a long line to check in, you get in a line to register your kids for the children’s programming, you wait again for your boarding group to be called … we were dreading this part!  Well, upon arriving at the pier when our documents were scanned we were informed to go right past the regular check in lines and head to the back of the cruise terminal.  There we would find a separate check in for Concierge and Platinum Castaway Club members.  We waited for about three minutes, and we were called up to start the process.  We were checked in, our kids were checked in and given their bands that allow them to participate in the children’s programs, we were then escorted past the guests waiting to board by a Concierge team member and we were on board just like that.  I was very impressed … I mean that alone made the extra few dollars spent worth it.  As we were walking to board, we were informed that in the Concierge Lounge we would find some snacks, small sandwiches and drinks.  What!  You mean I don’t have to go up to Cabanas (the casual dining option, AKA the buffet) and battle 3,000 guests that obviously have not eaten in a week and think that the ship might just run out of food?  At this point, I figured I had just died and gone to heaven.  Day one of any cruise is my absolute least favorite for some of these reasons mentioned and the Disney Concierge team just made day one a pleasure for me.  I was as happy as my five year old daughter meeting Minnie Mouse.  We made our way up to Deck 12, dropped off our things in our room and headed over to the Concierge Lounge.  WOW!  What a great place to be.  A nice quiet area, some food, drinks, coloring pages and crayons for the kids.  Then a Concierge member comes over to introduce herself and tell us about all of the things we had access to on our cruise.  She had a folder with her, with our agenda printed out (we didn't plan anything because we really just wanted to enjoy the ship).  She told us about happy hour each evening, told us about making any reservations for us, free on demand movies in our room, access to board games, told us about a private character greeting just for concierge level staterooms.  At this point all I heard was beautiful harp music in my head (again, I was just in heaven), so I’m not so sure I caught all of our benefits.  After that, we went back to the room to check it out before roaming around the ship.  The room was beautiful.  Disney really does a fantastic job with their staterooms.  We were in a standard balcony room.  Plenty of room for all four of us.  The concierge rooms have some different decor to them, really nice!  So, off we go to walk around the ship.

This was a Merrytime Cruise, being close to Christmas.  The ship was decorated with trees, garland, and lights.  There was even a huge gingerbread house in the Atrium Lobby.  Smelled quite tasty!  This was a nice treat.  When I booked this cruise a year and a half ago I had not even given the slightest thought to a Christmas themed cruise.  It was an added bonus for sure.  After snapping some photos and wandering around, it was time to get ourselves together for our early dinner seating.  Tonight’s dinner was in Animators Palate, which is my favorite of the three rotational dining options.  I love the big screens with the Crush from Nemo swimming around conversing with guests.  We happened to also have friends on board, and we had dinner with them each evening.   Made an already great cruise even better!  In the evening there was a special appearance by Santa himself along with the Disney characters.  What an amazing night for kids and adults.  The Disney characters are so accessible on these cruises.  Mickey Mouse came over to my daughter, held her hands and danced to the music.  What a dream come true for her!  It is now late, it’s been a long day … off to bed.

Day two, we stopped in Nassau, Bahamas.  We chose to stay on the ship, as we have been to Nassau multiple times.  My husband made a surprise spa appointment for me, so after lunch and a game of mini golf with the kids, I headed off for my massage and facial, he took the kids to the Buena Vista Theater to watch Big Hero 6 in 3D.  My massage was absolutely amazing!  My therapist, Arlene, was fantastic.  It amazes me the strength that some of these petite therapists have!  After my spa appointment I met up with the family to catch the end of the movie, then headed to the pool so the little one could splash around a bit.  She loves the Mickey shaped pool and the waterslide next to it.  This was a nice, relaxing day.  Time to get cleaned up and ready for dinner in Enchanted Garden.  Tonight was Pirate Night, and it was off to the deck party to watch the pirate themed show with the characters.  Later this evening it was fireworks, which we could see from the privacy of our balcony.  What a great way to end the evening!  (Also, I have to say we visited the Concierge Lounge a few times today, just because we could!).

Day three, we were in Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.  We did get off the ship for a bit and walk around, but not for long.  We figured we would take advantage of no crowds on the ship and take our daughter on the AquaDuck (Disney’s water coaster on board the Dream and Fantasy).  Last time we sailed the Dream, she was not quite tall enough to go.  This time, there was no stopping her.  First ride, Daddy took her and I rode with my son.  Then I took her.  She loved it and claimed “this is my new favorite thing.”  Then it was back to the pool, then another ride on the AquaDuck.  It was a very nice day.  The kids wore themselves out.  We got cleaned up, headed to the D Lounge for some Bingo, then off to dinner in Royal Palace.  All of our meals were outstanding, not a complaint there at all.   Knowing that this was the last night, it was a little sad.  Yes, it was back to reality the next day.  We had to get the kids to bed early, as they were going to school right when we got off the ship.  That was part of the deal … I picked them up from school early Friday, but they had to go to school on Monday.  We live so close to Port Canaveral, so it is easy to do.

Monday morning, time to disembark.  We had a reservation to meet in the Concierge Lounge with our luggage at 7:20 am to be escorted off the ship.  This was such an easy process.  We were through customs and in our car by 7:41, which was fantastic!

We loved sailing this way so much that we booked again while on board.  We are trying Concierge Class again next year and I cannot wait!

Interested in any information on a Disney cruise (or any other cruise)?  Let me know!  You can visit my website or send me an email or give me a call anytime, 888-882-5793.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quantum of the Seas ... WOW!

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

We were lucky enough to be invited on a two night preview sailing of Royal Caribbean's brand new ship, Quantum of the Seas.  When Royal Caribbean says "This Changes Everything" they were not kidding!  The ship comes in at 167,800 tons, 1,141 feet in length and has a double occupancy guest capacity of 4,180 passengers.  The Quantum Class comes in "smaller" than Oasis Class, but larger than the Freedom Class.

I have always considered Royal Caribbean to be a leader in cruise ship innovation, and they certainly did not disappoint in this area with the Quantum.  On board you will find things like RipCord by iFly, which is a sky-diving simulator; the SeaPlex where you can play basketball, go roller skating and ride bumper cars; the North Star that takes you 300 feet above sea level and Two70 which is an incredible space that transforms from day to night.  Of course you can still find the FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing, DreamWorks experience and youth and teen programs on board.

I have to admit that we did not see the entire ship.  Two reasons for that:  One, we were only on board for two nights and two, it was a chilly 35 degrees out!  Spending time on the open decks was not something that we chose to do.  So, with our very short two nights here are some of my thoughts!

Dynamic Dining:  This is new to Royal Caribbean.  You will not find set dining times here, also you will not find those large main dining rooms. You also will not have any formal nights (except in The Grande Restaurant).  Instead you will find 18 options, 5 of them are complimentary.  You set your options prior to your cruise (this is recommended, although they do reserve space for those that wish to make plans on board, but you might be disappointed as these venues book quickly).  With only two nights on board, well, we only ate dinner in two restaurants.  Chops Grille, which has a well worth it $35 per person cover charge and American Icon Grill, which is complimentary.  We did manage to peek in a few of the restaurants.  Being smaller than main dining rooms, they were fantastically appointed (some even whimsical like Wonderland).  Now I know that some cruisers love the set dining times.  Sitting with the same table mates at the same table with the same wait staff.  That is all part of cruising right?  Well, I have to say that I love the Dynamic Dining concept.  I am one that loves to try specialty restaurants and have an option to sit with just my husband or family, or share a table with others.  I also love flexibility.  After all, I am on vacation.  And I can choose to eat in the same restaurant more than once if I wish (the menus certainly were appealing and with enough choices).  Being in a different restaurant every evening is so appealing to me.  It is something new every evening!  This ship is so automated, the wait staff enters your orders on a tablet, so if you have any preferences or allergies they are noted and every dining venue has access to your profile.
Silk Restaurant

Chops Grille

Wonderland Restaurant

Wonderland Restaurant

SeaPlex:  This was such a cool area!  It is the larges indoor active space at sea.  Here you can find things like roller skating, basketball, bumper cars, a circus school, ping pong tables, air hockey, XBox.  You may never see your kids at all on this cruise (or some adults for that matter).  This is such a clever space.  I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to play ping pong on a cruise, in the open decks.  My hair is flying in my face, the ball is so light it just goes everywhere and if you miss it, you are running half a deck to try and get it.  I wonder why someone has not thought of this before!
Bumper Cars

View from second level of SeaPlex


More XBox

Two70:  What an incredible space!  Beautiful area aft on Decks 5 and 6.  Floor to ceiling windows that can completely transform.  Unfortunately, I was not able to see any transformations or shows since I was only there for a short period of time.  I was able to see some of the technology though.  And a must ... there is a bar here.  I am a "fancy" martini drinker and I love sweet drinks.  There is a drink on the menu called Cotton Canditini.  It was so yummy!  I took a photo of the ingredients and will try my best to duplicate this concoction at home!

Robotics Bar:  This was pretty cool to watch.  Two robotic "arms" making your drink.  I did not order from here, as you can imagine in a two night sailing everyone wanted to get a chance.  It is something to see though!

Music Hall:  Loved this space and the design.  Here you will find a rock n' roll atmosphere, live bands, dancing.  We walked through a few times, but did not have time to stay.  This is on my list as a must do for when we cruise on Quantum in the future.

Solarium:  Here you will find an adults only retreat.  I think I could have stayed here for hours if not days.  Located in the front of the ship on Decks 13 and 14, here you will find an amazing tiered pool, hot tubs, comfy chairs, a bar and some amazing views!

The decor of this ship is not like any of the Royal Caribbean ships I have seen in the past.  To me, it seemed more like a Celebrity Cruises' designed ship with some Royal Caribbean touches in certain areas.  Having sailed on many other Royal ships, most of the time you get the feeling that the ship was built just for families.  The Quantum did not have that feel on most decks.  Now, when visiting the kids programs and the SeaPlex ... those areas were screaming family.  This ship has many stateroom types and options, which makes it ideal for families.  We were staying in an interior stateroom.  All interior rooms on this ship have a "virtual balcony."  It is actually a floor to ceiling "TV" with a view of what is outside.  I do not like interior staterooms, I am a balcony traveler.  For this sailing, we did not have a stateroom option.  I have to say, the virtual balcony really gave a nice feeling to the stateroom.  The staterooms are also beautifully decorated and thoughtfully designed.
Virtual Balcony (Inside Stateroom)
Pool Area

Royal Esplanade

This ship (or class of ships) is a must do.  Yes, it is priced a bit higher than other Royal Caribbean ships, but have you ever heard the saying "you get what you pay for"?  Well, that certainly does apply here.  The Quantum is currently sailing out of Bayonne, NJ, but will be departing for China in May of 2015.  The Anthem of the Seas makes her debut in April of 2015 in Europe, and will make its arrival in Bayonne, NJ, at the end of November.  Reserve your cruise early.  They are selling quickly!  This will ensure best rates, best stateroom selection and a great option to make payments on your cruise.

Would you like more info?  Just let me know.  You can visit my website, send me an email or give me a call anytime at 888-882-5793.  I would be happy to share more details with you about this fantastic ship.

CruiseOne Freer & Associates
Merritt Island, Florida

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Great Cruise Deals Are Out There!

If you would have asked me in the beginning of the year if there would be any specials for summer sailings, I most likely would have told you no, or if so, they would be very limited.  That answer would have been based on what normally happens.  Well, I would have been wrong!  I am still quite surprised at the specials that are out there, and surprised at the rates as well.  If you are on the fence about a summer cruise, this just might be what you need in order to push you over to making it happen!

So, here is a little summary of what is currently out there:

CruiseOne has an EXCLUSIVE Pre-Paid Gratuity Promo. It started June 7, 2014, and runs through June 30, 2014.  The applicable sailings are for Alaska, Bermuda or Europe on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity or Carnival.  Sail dates are from July 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014.  Pre-paid gratuities are for the first and second guest in the stateroom.

Carnival Cruise Lines has some fantastic rates out there.  Carnival is a great family ship, kids have a blast.  (We leave soon for our family cruise on board Carnival Sunshine).    Give me a call or send me an email and I will check rates and availability for you.

Celebrity Cruises is still running their 1,2,3 Go Promo.  This promo is good through July 31, 2014.  It is good for sailings from October 2014 all the way through April 2016.  With this offer you get a choice of one of the following:  Free Classic Beverage Package for two; free gratuities for two or on board credit.  (You could even combine this offer with CruiseOne's pre-paid gratuity offer if the sailing fits the dates!).

Norwegian Cruise Lines has great rates and some on board credit on select sailings.  Norwegian has some fantastic new ships out there, and Freestyle cruising is fantastic.  No set dining times, no formal nights.  Great food in the regular dining rooms, but just wait until you try one of the numerous specialty dining restaurants!

Royal Caribbean is running their BOGO half off sale through June 30, 2014, on select sailings.  There are also some kids sail free sailings as well on sailings later this year.

So, what are you waiting for?  Just let me know what you are interested in and I will get you all the info you need.  Remember ... using CruiseOne Freer & Associates costs you nothing extra.  You don't pay a higher rate that going direct, you don't pay any fees.  You get an actual live person to help you with the entire process, and one that will be there for you when you need them (you cannot get that from an online site).  Give me a call at 888-882-5793, or 321-735-0202.  You can send me an email, or visit my website to browse sailings.  Looking forward to working with you!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever - Explore and Enjoy It!

The world is now more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people need to, want to, and can travel. If you’re part of that twenty percent, a world of travel awaits you.

Travel professionals such as myself who are accessible travel advocates certified by Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.

Here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure that when your next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.

Outline your travel needs

Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home?  

Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides?  How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?

Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.   

Plan Ahead

If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms. 

Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions.  Again, documentation and paperwork are required. 

Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip.  Confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.

Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.

Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, make sure the company is aware of your special needs.

When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.

Ask the Right Questions

When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.”

For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room? 

Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter?

Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars?

Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals?

Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort? 

On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters?  

Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.

I look forward to helping you with all of your accessible travel needs!  You can reach me anytime by phone at 888-882-5793 or 321-735-0202; or by email  You can also browse my website for cruises and trips.