Monday, April 24, 2017

Royal Caribbean's new ship: the Harmony of the Seas

“Are you going on the big one?” our hotel waitress asked.
 “Yes, we’re going on the BIG one.”

There was no mistaking what we were referring to. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas is the largest ship at sea. Here is a picture for comparison. It is the Harmony beside the Norwegian Breakaway. The Breakaway is also a very large and new ship; however, it is tiny compared to the massive Harmony of the Seas.

The size is necessary to fit the incredible number of activities available on this ship. There are 7 neighborhoods in total! You can go from the Boardwalk, to Central Park or to the Spa! Onward ho!

The percentage of ship activities that were kid-friendly amazed me. I have never seen so many things for kids to do in one place! There are so many that I am going to number them for you as I describe them all.

1.There is the Splashaway Bay waterpark for young kids and
2. two water slides for the older kids.
3.There are multiple pools and
4.a dance floor for rocking out.
5.  Plus there is the Abyss multi-story regular slide. It has a giant anglerfish at the top with big teeth. Sliding down it was a breeze.

6. There is a carousel,
7. arcades,
8. and a kid’s club. The kid’s club has it’s own movie theater, science lab, and art studio. It looked like a lot of fun. I took some time to wax nostalgic in the arcade by playing skee-ball. That game will never not be fun.

9. Kids can surf on the surf simulator
10. or fly across the ship on the zip line. I overcame my fear and tried both in my ungraceful way. In fact, many of the kids that tried the surf simulator put adults like me to shame. They were natural pros. Hang ten man!

11. There are ping pong tables,
12. a basketball court,
13. and Dreamworks and Pixar movies playing in the stateroom. On my sailing, I took the opportunity to watch “Finding Dory” and the new “Ghostbusters.”

14. Kids can watch the holiday parade,
15. eat pizza at the pizzeria,
16. or meet their favorite Dreamworks characters! These characters include Shrek, the Hippo from Madagascar, the Penguins from Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda!

17. The onboard shows are phenomenal and include the well known “Grease” as well as an incredible water production in the Aqua Theater. Even though I have been a “Grease” fan for years, I liked the water show even more. The show combined high diving, slacklining, acrobats, dancers, intricate lighting and circus performers to create a show that was really unique and exciting.

18. There’s even an onboard ice skating rink,
19. a rock wall and
20. a mini golf course!

One spectacle for all, and server for adults-only, is robot bartender. Watch it mix your drinks while dancing to the music that is playing.

The spa provided a heavenly retreat for adults only. I hear that massages are lovely, and you can also get a manicure or haircut.

Last but not least, there was an adults-only escape room onboard! It was highly technical with flashing lights and clever puzzles. I highly recommend it. This was the surprise easter egg of my trip and I thought that it was fantastic.

I sampled the Voom internet while at sea and the speed allowed me to stay completely connected. However, if you would prefer an electronics break- this ship is a great place to do it. There is so much stimuli for adults and kids to experience. The Harmony of the Seas provides a truly unique and incredible vacation. Check it out!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why should you book your next cruise while on board? BOOKING BONUSES!

Read all about them ...

For past cruisers, you’ve likely waltzed by the onboard sales office on your way to all the fun.

Being too busy enjoying your current vacation, you really don’t want to spend your time meeting with a Future Cruise Counselor discussing your next cruise when you only have about a week onboard to spend sunbathing at the pool, exploring your ports of call, or trying to hit big in the casino.

But, the thing is, if you’re going to go on another cruise (let’s face it -- we all know you are!) then, you’ll really want to check out the onboard sales office to see what all they’re offering.

The cruise line is likely to be offering reduced deposits, onboard spending credit, and other freebies if you reserve onboard. Sometimes, there is even onboard spending credit applied to the cruise you are already on AND your future cruise! 

Most cruise lines offer this convenience.  You can check your cruise’s daily newsletter for desk location and hours.

The best news of all is that you can snag one of these future cruise “credits” and have it transferred to our agency for an ADDITIONAL DISCOUNT!



Unfortunately, the Imagination, Inspiration, Sensation, Spirit, Valor, and Legend do not have Future Cruise Counselors onboard the ship but the remaining, unmentioned vessels do.

Cruisers may select ships and sail dates and also receive an onboard credit of up to $200 per stateroom. 

The reservation can be combined with other promotions, except interline discounts, and you get two vouchers for the same onboard credit that you can give to friends or family who will be joining the sailing. 

There is no deposit discount. 

You can cancel for no charge up to 90 days before the scheduled sailing. 

I would strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with Carnival’s no charge cancellation policy of up to 90 days before sailing. 



Celebrity’s Future Cruise Vacations program offers discounted deposits of $100 per guest.  

Additionally, you can book up to three future cruises at one time and the offer is combinable with Celebrity’s promotions such as their “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best!” sale.  

You can choose either the “Cruise Now” or “Cruise Later” option when making your reservation.

The “Cruise Now” plan offers up to $500 onboard spending credit which is based upon the sailing you choose.

You can cancel your booking up until 90 days before the cruise departs without penalty.

You also can change your cruise date or ship, and, if the price drops for your cruise, you can get the better deal. 

The Cruise Later option is best if you know that you want to cruise but haven't yet picked a ship or date. 

There is no expiration date on your reservation and you're eligible for up to $200 in onboard credit. 

I would strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with Celebrity’s no charge cancellation policy of up to 90 days before sailing without penalty, allowances of refaring if the price drops, and Cruise Later program. The Cruise Later program, in particular, allows you to take advantage of the bonuses without the bind of being locked into a specific cruise. 



If you reserve a cruise with Costa while on board, you get a 5 percent discount that becomes guaranteed once you finalize the booking through your travel agent. 

The line also runs promotions on top of the 5 percent discount, such as a 100 euro voucher to use toward that future cruise.  

This amount may vary based upon ship and sail date.

You also would get a voucher to give to a family member or friend in such a case. 

The discount may vary depending on the ship and sail date you are interested in.

The deposit cannot be redeemed for cash. 

I would cautiously recommend this program. Rules and restrictions are provided onboard, and may be more binding than other cruise line’s programs. 



One important thing to note for Disney’s Future Cruise Credit program is that there are blackout dates (typically Christmas sailings). If there is a specific sailing you are interested in, be sure to ask the counselor onboard the ship if you can use it for that cruise prior to purchasing. 

Disney deposits are reduced to 10% for 7 night or longer sailings, come with a 10% discount on your future cruise, and come with up to $200 onboard spending credit as well (amount depends on the ship and sail date).

Blackout dates receive the onboard credit as well as the reduced deposit if it is a 7+ night sailing, but will not get the 10% discount off of prevailing rates. 

You can select a specific cruise at the time of purchase or you can save it and have it applied at a later date.

Guests must sail within 18 months after the date of the original booking was made onboard. 
It is also limited to two staterooms on one future cruise date per household, any additional staterooms may be booked at current prevailing rates

This offer is valid for Categories 4-11 only and is not valid for concierge level categories, 1 or 2 night sailings or IGT, OGT, and VG Restricted Categories.

Name changes to the reservation may be made as long as one adult on the original booking remains on the reservation.

Certificates are non-refundable for cash.

I would cautiously recommend this program. Disney has black out dates that this program cannot be applied to, and they may apply to the date that you had wanted to sail on. There are also restrictive name change rules and only an 18 month time frame to use the future cruise credit. These restrictions may be too limiting for some and could cause problems. 



The Future Cruise Consultant desk on Holland offers up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit (based on length of sailing and stateroom category) with a deposit of $100 per person for a 3 to 10 day cruise.

You can choose an itinerary on your current sailing or make a future cruise deposit and take up to four years to pick your cruise before the deposit expires.

You can cancel or change your reservation up to 90 days before the departure without penalty. 

Here are the typical onboard credit amounts:

3-10 Days: 
  • $25 for Inside/Oceanview
  • $50 Balcony and Suites

11-21 Days: 
  • $50 for Inside/Oceanview
  • $75 Balcony and $100 Suite

22-50 Days: 
  • $100 for Inside/Oceanview
  • $150 Balcony and Suites

51+ Days: 
  • $150 for Inside/Oceanview
  • $200 Balcony and Suites

Holland’s Future Cruise Deposits are not valid on Grand World Voyages, Grand Voyages, or segments of Grand Voyages. 

Certificates are non-refundable for cash.

I would strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with Holland’s no charge cancellation policy of up to 90 days before sailing, and relaxed 4 years to choose a sailing to get the future cruise credit applied. 



MSC’s Future Cruise Credit program is only offered on the MSC Divina in the Caribbean.

This program allows passengers who book onboard to receive up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit, based on ship, sail date and cabin category. 

Deposits are $100 per person. 

Cruisers can book specific cruises while onboard or decide up to four years later before the deposit expires.

You can combine the reservation with certain other promotions including the military discount.

Certificates are non-refundable for cash.

I would strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with MSC’s relaxed time-frame of 4 years to choose a sailing to apply the future cruise credit to. 



With NCL, guests may purchase a $250 Freestyle Cruise Rewards deposit to reserve a sailing of 6 days or longer.

Additionally, guests get an instant $100 onboard spending credit for the sailing that they are currently on. 

Guests have the option to apply the $250 deposit to a sailing they have already picked out or they can simply save it until they have one.

The Freestyle Cruise Rewards is valid for four years from the purchase date before it will expire.

Guests may charge the $250 Freestyle Cruise Reward to their onboard account and it is refundable within 30 days of purchase (less the $100 instant onboard credit if refunded).

I would cautiously recommend this program. You only have 30 days to decide to cancel the program which is a very short time frame, and you will be penalized for the instant onboard credit portion of the purchase. 

However, this is a great option if you are certain you are going to cruise again and will not cancel your or return your future cruise credit. 


Princess offers future cruise sales consultants on each of its ships. 

You pay $100 per person to reserve a future sailing and you can claim onboard credit of up to $150 per passenger (based on cruise length and cabin class). 

You can book a specific cruise onboard or get an open reservation to sail that's good for up to four years. 

Your deposit is refundable if you choose not to use your deposit towards a future sailing. 

I would strongly recommend this program. Your deposit is automatically refundable if it’s not applied to a specific sailing. The benefits are great, and there is no risk of losing your deposit if you do not find a sailing to apply it to.
Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean's NextCruise program allows guests to get up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit (based on length of sailing) and pay a reduced deposit of $100 per person for their reservation. 

Cruisers don't have to pick their ships or sailing dates at the time of the reservation as there is no expiration date. 

Guests get two NextCruise certificates for friends or family who can sail with you and also receive onboard credit. 

These certificates are valid for 5 years and are non-refundable after purchase.

Royal Caribbean's standard cancellation policies apply to onboard bookings. 

Certificates are non-refundable for cash.

Shareholder onboard credits and other onboard credit or dollars-off promotions are not combinable with the onboard credit for booking a NextCruise onboard. 

I would strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with Royal Caribbean’s relaxed time-frame of 5 years to choose a sailing to apply the future cruise credit to. 

******* Please note that this information is subject to change at any moment and may vary based upon the current promotions.  This article serves to inform our clients of the potential benefits to booking onboard. ********

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Where do cruises go? How much does one cost?

Here is an example map from Norwegian of the many options available to cruisers!

The quickest answer that I can give is that most US cruisers are looking to go to the islands in the Caribbean Sea, (including the Bahamas) and that cruisers in Europe are looking to go to the famous sites along the Mediterranean Sea (including Greece.) However, cruises also go to Alaska, Northern Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, and more. Click on this link for more information: Where do cruises go?

The price of a cruise could be anywhere between $200 and $20,000 per person! Plus, the cruise lines change the price almost daily! There is no ONE price that we can tell you. To determine the price we need to know a specific sailing, cabin type, # of people in the cabin, and if you qualify for any promotions. Only with all of the information specific to your product can tell you the correct pricing of the day. Click on this link for more information: How much do cruises cost?


1.  "Where do cruises go?

Cruises go to all 7 continents. You did not misread that. There are cruise lines that visit every continent, including Antarctica.

For cruisers starting in the U.S., a common cruise destination is the sunny Caribbean Sea, with easily accessible ports from Florida, Texas, and along the coasts. If you would like to go to the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, and/or Central America, you will choose one of these cruises. For more information see the map below, and visit our Caribbean page

There are other easily reachable cruises for travelers starting in the US:

There are fall foliage cruises in the Northeast including Boston, Maine, and Canada. 

There are Pacific cruises that start in California and head down to Mexico. 

There are Alaskan cruises starting in Seattle or Vancouver, and touring the beautiful glaciers. 

There are even Panama Canal cruises which travel all the way down Central America up to the canal, or onward through it and up the other side.

You'll see so many bald eagles in Alaska! The one in the picture is named Lady Baltimore. _____________________________________________________________________________

This is the iconic Amalfi Coast near Naples Italy. 
For cruisers starting in Europe, a common cruise destination is the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, with easily accessible ports for our servicemembers stationed in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands

From drivable Savona, or Genoa, you can easily see the Western Mediterranean which includes fantastic stops in places such as Barcelona in Spain, Marseille in France, beachy Palma de Mallorca, and Rome in Italy

We are experts on your closest ports! Use this map if you are stationed in Germany. 
If you would like to see Croatia, Italy, Turkey and/or GREECE then you want the Eastern Mediterranean. For many the easiest ports will be Venice or Trieste and which will allow you to see beautiful medieval castles in Dubrovnik, the waterways of Venice, the site of the original Olympics in Katakolon, and the iconic, picture-perfect, Santorini, Greece

This is the Berber market in Agadir, Morocco. 
Other interesting and accessible cruises for Americans abroad are Northern European and Baltic cruises which will take you from drivable Kiel, Copenhagen, or Warnemunde to the beautiful Norwegian Fjords, UNESCO protected capital cities, and/or culminating in an overnight in majestic St. Petersburg, Russia

There are British Isles cruises which will take you around the United Kingdom to beautiful sites in England, Ireland, Scotland, and on some longer cruises Iceland!

Americans in Europe can easily head westward on a fascinating and sunny Canary Islands tour which will stop in nearby Morocco and Spain

There are even River cruises for those who would like to go inland to famous European cities. Tour the Danube and/or Rhine River to see Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Belgrade, Nuremberg, Prague, and Cologne


If you are a North American living abroad or willing to fly, there are even more options for you! Here are snapshots of the itineraries that I find most intriguing all around the world:

There are Middle East Cruises that tour the cultural hubs of Israel, Egypt, and Dubai

There are South American cruises that focus on the beautiful coastal cities of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina

There are cruises that just loop the Galapagos islands the way Darwin did.

There are cruises that visit icy Ushuaia, Argentina to see penguins before seeing the beautiful Valparaiso, Chile and the infamous statues on Easter Island

There are cruises that will take you to Phuket, Thailand or the bluest water of Bora Bora

There are cruises that loop around the Cape of Good Hope in South, Africa

There are cruises that circle the important must-see parts of Australia, such as Sydney, and also go to the glorious jungles of New Zealand

There are cruises that will take you from Japan into coastal China and nearby South Korea

There are even weekend cruises that go nowhere and return to the same port with the purpose of being an exciting fiesta, and quick getaway! Cruises truly go everywhere. 


2.  How much do cruises cost?

The price of a cruise could be anywhere between $200 and $20,000 per person! 

A three-day cruise to the Bahamas on Carnival in October in the least expensive inside cabin on the ship could be around $200, while a 30-day cruise around Europe on a luxury cruise line in a fancy balcony suite could be $20,000. 

Cruises are like airline tickets: the price is different depending on where you leave from, where you go, when you go, and what kind of seat you’re in (first class or economy!) 

There are off-season months which are usually less expensive: Oct, Nov, Jan, and Feb. 
Summer-time, spring break, and holiday-time cruises are almost always more expensive as that’s when most families can travel. 

Cruises over the week of Christmas often cost three times more than the same cruise costs if you go over the first week of December, for example. 

This is complicated further by the cruise lines promotions, which are constantly changing and provide varied benefits and prices. 

Here is an example promotion from Norwegian.
So we can’t give you the price of a cruise until you pick one specific sailing - which is indicated by a ship name and departure date. 

Then we need to know HOW MANY PEOPLE will be in your cabin, and WHAT TYPE OF CABIN you’d like (least expensive inside, oceanview, balcony, or expensive large suite). 


At this point, we will ask a lot of random and odd-seeming questions about you.

Are you 55 or older?
What state is on your driver's license?
Are you a member of the military? 
Have you sailed on this cruise line before? 
Do you have the Disney Visa card? 
What ages will your children be when you’re sailing?

All these details are very important!

They help us to determine which cruise line promotions you qualify for and how we can save you the most amount of money. 

With these promotions and our additional discount, we will give you the price using the current cruise fare for the number of people that you have in your cabin. 

The current cruise fare per person is the number that you see when you search for the cruise on our website. Once you click the orange select button for a specific date this cruise fare is the number that applies to passenger 1 and 2. 

Passenger 3-5 will have a different cruise fare designated by the cruise line. Oftentimes the cruise fare for the extra passengers will be lower- especially if they are kids. However, this is not always the case. Some cruise lines occasionally charge more for the 3rd and 4th passenger in the cabin.

Also, since cruise lines provide different promotions at different times, the price of the cruise fare can and does, change from day to day. 

Many clients worry that this will work against them with a better price coming after they have already booked. 

However, to them I say- do not fret. Here is why: 

1. Here at we use a computer program to monitor the price of your cabin type on your sailing once you have booked with us. This means that if a lower fare comes up before the time of final payment, we can refare you to a lower rate. We do this happily because we really do enjoy saving you money!

2. Fares sometimes go down, and we refare for our customers every time that we are able to. However, the closer you get to sailing the less often this happens. Usually the closer we are to a sailing, the higher the price. It is in your best interest to book early and lock in the lower price before this happens.

All of the information above concerns the part of the price that changes most often- the cruise fare per person. However, there are other parts of the price that you should know about. Just like taxes are added to your bill at the grocery store, taxes are added to your bill when you buy a cruise cabin. 

These taxes are broken into two categories: taxes and port fees. The taxes are charged by the government and collected as such. The port fees are charged by the cruise lines to pay the cost of docking at the port. 

Your total price is the cruise fare for each person + the port fee for each person + the tax for each person. In the image below the taxes and fees are bundled into one category called “government fees.”

There you have it! Let us know if you are just beginning your search and would like a personalized list of options like this one, or if you already have a specific ship and sail date in mind. 

No matter where you are in your cruise search, call or email us. We are happy to help! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Disney isn't the only one with a private island!


As the daily temperature drops, I catch myself daydreaming about sunny islands. I’m sipping on a Mai Tai, while dipping my toes in the bathwater-warm water so clear that I can see the sea stars below. Palm trees sway in the periphery as the sun reflects off the water. It is time to make this dream a reality!

Here are the private islands and beach resorts owned by the various cruise lines. Most of them are located in the Bahamas, but there are also locations in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Belize, and the United Arab Emirates! Check them out!

Amber Cove, Dominican Republic

dolphin-swim-lunch-445105 jpg.jpg
This Carnival Run port is known for having the clearest amber in the world, a wall originally built to ward off pirates, and an Ocean center where you can swim with dolphins! The beach towns of Sosua and Cabarete are only a half hour away. Plus there is Puerto Plata which was founded by Christopher Columbus.

This island is included in many Carnival and Costa itineraries!


Enjoy the beautiful palm trees on this private island owned by Disney Cruises. They have a water play area, game pavilion with ping pong, bicycle rentals, character greetings, and snorkeling. The Disney beach is just a short tram ride from the cruise terminal.


This Royal Caribbean private island makes for a PERFECT beach day! You can walk right off of the ship and find a chair to lounge in for the day while enjoying a delicious frozen beverage!

However, in case you are up for adventure, there is plenty to do! You can dive around a sunken replica of Blackbeard’s pirate ship, kayak, or barbecue! We recommend the guided tour via jet ski excursion to ‘Starfish Alley’ where you will hop off your ski and stand in knee deep waters only to find that the entire sea floor is covered in starfish and sand dollars! This is a little pricey, but guaranteed fun if you are willing to splurge!

This island is included in many Royal Caribbean and Celebrity itineraries!

Find your endless summer on this 250 acre Norwegian private island which includes a waverunner adventure on jetskis, parasailing, paddleboarding, cabanas, and an eco-boat wildlife encounter. All you have to do is take a 10 tender ride from your boat and then it’s an easy walk to the beach.



This Holland America (Carnival) island has won “Best Private Island’ 11 years in a row! With white sand beaches. waterfront bars, biking, kayaks, and snorkeling gear there is plenty to do in this paradise. Double decked tenders will take you the 10 minute ride to shore and welcome center. Head northwest, and just beyond the welcome center is the beach.

This island is included in many Holland America and Carnival itineraries!

Harvest Cay, Belize

Norwegian will be debuting a new island in the Western Caribbean! “This new 75-acre island will have a swim-up bar, a lagoon with water sports, ziplining, and snorkeling in the world’s second largest barrier reef!” There will also be Belizean crafts, excursions to a local Mayan temple, Rainforest tubing excursions and parasailing!


Princess Cay
Enjoy the white sand shoreline of this private island owned by Princess Cruises.They have paddle wheelers, kayaks, and bungalows on hand for your enjoyment. Plus there are complimentary beach barbecues! To protect the coral reefs surrounding the cay you will be tethered to the island. At Princess Cay, the pristine beach is all around for you to enjoy!

This island is included in many Princess and Carnival itineraries!



Labadee, Haiti

This resort on the north side of Haiti is run by Royal Caribbean. They’ve set up lots to do there including the Dragon’s Breath Flight line, the local water park, and rentable cabanas on the beach. The 5 beaches are all very accessible from the centrally located pier where your ship will dock.

This island is included in many Royal Caribbean and Celebrity itineraries!


MSC will be building this private island to function not only as a special tourist destination but as a Marine Reserve intent on preserving local ecosystems! With 95 acres this will be the biggest island development by any cruise line in the area. The island will feature a zip line, wedding pavilion, tranquil inland lagoon, and a family beach with play areas.

* Honorable Mention* Sir-Bani-Yas-Island in the UAE

SirBaniYasCheetahs.jpgMSC even has a private island in the Persian Gulf off the coast of the UAE!Home to an enormous nature reserve, you can see protected cheetahs, giraffes, and flamingos! There is an inflatable water park and kid’s play area, as well as six bars for adults. Whether you relax near the barbecue or view the wildlife via safari- this island will be a great stop on your trip.