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What's Up With Celebrity Cruises

What’s Up with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises is the “premium” cruise line of Royal Caribbean.

What makes Celebrity premium?

Their fleet of “Solstice Class” ships, which includes the original Solstice, the Equinox, the Eclipse, the Silhouette, and the newest, Reflection, have been rated by consumers as “best in class”.
Best in Class takes into consideration superior entertainment, culinary excellence, onboard activities, luxurious accommodations and a caring staff.

Celebrity met with their architects to create something special with the Reflection. This ship is the last of their revolutionary Solstice Class ships and has some expanded features including the Reflection Suite, a 1,830 square foot space which features the Reflection shower - a cantilevered shower with glass walls allowing for 360-degree views. The ship also features an extended AquaSpa with an infrared sauna, aromatic steam room and sensory showers which use lights and sounds for an unbelievable experience. Hungry? The Celebrity Reflection is the only ship at sea with 60 dishes that are SPE Certified, meaning they are not only nutritious, but also delicious. These features are just additions to all the other wonderful Solstice-Class features like the Lawn Club and Art Studio.

This is by no means to suggest anything below standards for the parent company’s ships.

Where as Royal Caribbean has the “WOW Factor” with their super large ships, such as the Harmony of the Seas, featuring a ton of dining options, a myriad of family activities and the latest in onboard technology, Celebrity prefers a more intimate experience with a maximum of 1,500 cabins.

Introducing the first “Edge Class” ship.

The Edge is the next innovation for Celebrity, set to start sailing in late 2018. The Edge is now open for booking.

Can a cruise ship have a “Magic Carpet”? You betcha.

The highlight of the Celebrity Edge is the outward-facing vision- the Magic Carpet, an extraordinary venue that changes mood, function, and even its location. This incredible engineering feat is the world’s first cantilevered, floating platform that reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level, so you can soar over the open ocean. With breathtaking views, a full bar, and space for live entertainment, it is truly an innovation in itself.

Galapagos anyone?

Set foot on the Celebrity Xpedition, a state-of-the-art, 100 passenger vessell, sailing exclusively through the Galapagos Islands.

Enjoy special amenities such as room service, complimentary plush bathrooms, a fitness room, and nightly lectures by certified naturalists from the Galapagos National Park.

The Celebrity Xpedition sails on 10/111 night and 15 night cruises that include Quito, Baltra Island, Daphne Island, Gardner Bay, Suerez Point, Curmorant Port, Post Office Bay, Baroness Outlook, Murano Point and more.... and, of course Machu Picchu.
With only 50 cabins, the Expedition sells out quickly.

Call your Key Traveler Specialists, 888-539-1881 for all our money-saving cruise perks.

“Love to Travel. Love to Save”

Book Cruises Early vs Last Minute Deals

 

                    Book Cruises Early vs Last Minute Deals

 

This subject comes up more often as travelers are overwhelmed with promotions for cruises, both by email and by brochures in their mail box. Yes, we still have physical mailboxes, until Amazon or Tesla figures out something different.

What is the right time to book?

I don’t mean to talk from both sides of my mouth, but the answer to the title of this article is…..depends.

The argument for booking early has more to do with the cruise line or the escorted tour line and how they run their business. And, lest we forget, it is a business.

Cruise lines need to fill their ships at the highest prices the market allows.

Competition, world events and the economy all come into play.

Unlike airlines, who are notorious for the price of the day or even of the minute, cruise lines need to be more sensitive to travelers who book early, only to find out closer in bookings are lower.

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and a few others have recently discontinued last minute promotions to restore order to the market and to not anger early bookers. As a matter of fact, even though they still run aggressive promotions, the prices have been going up as inventory decreases.

Keep reading. It gets more interesting.

I have not discussed much about tour companies but I think it is worth mentioning in this article before I address more on the cruise segment.

The higher end tour companies such as Tauck Vacations, which, by the way, is also a major player in the luxury small, (very small) ship cruise marketplace. Tauck Tours and Cruises never, that’s never, runs a sale. So, it surprises a lot of people that call to book even six months or more in advance, only to find out that the trip they want for the date they want is sold out.

Collette Vacations, a premier tour operator in the mid-range price market, will run early booking promotions, but never last minute deals. Check out Collette Vacations on our website.

The same holds true for several small group tours from companies that offer unique trips. More on that in another article.

As for cruises, there is no easy answer. Our clients and the general public see all these deals coming at them and, often, can’t figure out when to pull the trigger and plop down their money.

The smart money goes to the early bookers

Availability! Availability!

First and foremost is finding out how much inventory is available on the cruise line of choice for the date and cabin type that meet your requirements. Only a travel advisor can tell you this. Unless you call direct.

But, you don’t save money by booking direct.

Low inventory means you will not find a better deal down the line. Remember my previous remark. It’s a business!

You won’t get that advice from the huge agencies that are only interested in making a sale before you move on to check out one or more of their competitors. Shopping for deals is now ingrained in our culture. The Internet does not always tell the whole story. The idea is to get you hooked so you will call.

We are not in the car business either, where $199 a month will get you into a $20,000 car, AFTER you put a ton of money down.

Can you imagine if we advertised a $5,000 cruise at $199 only to find out you had to come up with all that extra money down?

Just yesterday one of my regular clients called about a Celebrity cruise and wanted to know how she could figure out the best promotion since she saw three different deals in the same week.

I explained all the options and disclaimers, which were confusing to her.

Another happy client booked.

Today, I booked a Viking Ocean Cruise with more favorable terms than the line offered.

Another happy client.

And, with our Exclusive” Key Cash Back”, travelers save more money.

As is our practice, we cross check all the qualifiers to come up with the best offer.

That is why we refer Key Traveler as Travel Advisors rather than travel agents.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog.

Please feel free to SHARE this article with friends by forwarding it to their emails Click Email this Page at the bottom..

Check our website, www.keytraveler.com for your cruise or tour of choice. Then CALL US for the best promotions. Since the deals can change, we don’t post the best prices and promotions on our website or by email.

LET'S TALK.

“Love to Travel. Love to Save”

 

Key Cash Back varies by ship, tour, price and travel date. Certain restrictions may apply. Ask your Key Traveler Advisor for details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's All the Buzz About Viking Cruises

What’s All the Buzz about Viking Cruises

This discussion is about how one company’s plans to dominate the river cruise, and now the ocean cruise segment, has evolved.

More than likely, you have seen all the advertising that Viking has been promoting. If you are not on Viking’s mailing list, you are in the minority.

Years ago as I was just learning about river cruises, Jeff and I went on a Viking River Cruise through the Danube River. The ship was pretty old, the carpets were worn out, the cabin was claustrophobic and the food was less than ordinary. The crew was pleasant and knowledgeable. The ports were the highlight of the cruise, which is the main reason to go on a river cruise even to this day. Even though there is much to see in each port, river cruises provide one free excursion in each. We were thinking to ourselves, should we try the other main river cruise lines?

As travel agents, it is always best to experience firsthand not only the ports but also how the others stack up against Viking. So we tried out Uniworld, AMA Waterways, and Avalon Waterways, Viking’s only competition in the U.S. market at the time.

Uniworld, at that time, didn’t offer a much different experience. AMA & Avalon were just establishing their mark, so it was much easier to for them to improve the onboard experience with larger cabins and upgraded amenities….and they did.

Fast forward to the river cruise market in these last few years. With the advent of the Viking Longships, the company set out to take command of that segment of cruising. The Longships have been well received except for the fact that Viking decided to squeeze more passengers, 190, into the space by building them with smaller cabins at the bottom range of the price scale. I would recommend at least going for the larger verandas on these ships, budget notwithstanding.

These ships are much more modern and more comfortable than the previous generation. I would not hesitate to recommend Viking today, although my customer feedback on other lines such as AMA Waterways and Tauck fit the profile of those that have higher expectations.

Let’s not forget the main motivator is still the destination, and for those of us that are price motivated, the value. Viking can’t be classified as “luxury”. That definition belongs to the river ships that have fewer passengers, better accommodations with more suites and special on-shore events. Tauck, Regent and Scenic cruises are the real luxury river lines. More on that at a later time.

At the risk of losing you due to the length of this blog, I want to move on to Viking’s place in the ocean cruise segment

I will give Viking credit for their intensive study of what seems an overcrowded ocean cruise market. The idea of designing a ship that has all balconies, holds less than 1,000 passengers and offers an excursion in every port in ingenious. One way to achieve this was to eliminate the casino, a feature not missed for travelers favoring the accommodations over a seldom used area.

The best way to get this novel idea across to travelers is, surprise, marketing, which is an area of expertise for the line.

The first cruise on the first ocean ship, the Viking Star, didn’t go so well. The ship was mainly staffed by Viking’s river cruise personnel, which sounded as a good business plan at the time. They were disorganized and not well prepared. To Viking’s credit, they quickly fixed the issues for the cruises that followed. The plan from day one was to eventually build a fleet of at least six ships, all mirroring the original. The Viking Sea followed with the same success.

The next ships, the Viking Sky and the Viking Sun sail the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and beyond. For 2018, the fifth ship, the Viking Spirit, debuts and in 2019, a sixth ship is set to sail. Plans are in place to discover new itineraries for Viking in Alaska, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean.

Wow! Talk about growth in a crowded cruise market!

I do need to address where Viking fits in, especially with all the awards they have received from various sources. Viking is not in the luxury cruise segment. I personally would classify them as somewhere between Premium and Upper Premium. This category also includes Celebrity, Disney, Princess and Holland America with Celebrity receiving the highest awards of this group. Upper Premium lines are Azamara, Cunard and Windstar. ULTRA Premium is exclusively Oceania Cruises. Luxury ocean cruise lines are Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Seabourn.

Each has their own strengths I will expand on that in a future article.

Click on the "Home" button at the top Check out all the destinations and cruise lines and give us a call. We will offer you the best advice and all of your money savings deals.

“Love to Travel. Love to Save”

The Advantages of Cruising from Miami

      The Advantages of Cruises from Miami

Miami is a home port for many of the world’s most notable cruise lines, including, but not limited to, Oceania Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, , Crystal Cruises,Seabourn, Azamara and Regent Seven Seas.

Time is valuable. Itineraries are even more valuable.

Travelers looking for itineraries that include the Western Caribbean and Easter Caribbean cruises find more choices from the port of Miami due to shorter sailing distances.

Excellent choices for those are 3 of Celebrity Cruises award-winning ships, the Reflection, Equinox and Silhouette.

Cruises that offer exotic Southern Caribbean ports such as St. Barts, St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbados Tortola and St. John’s can take advantage of the proximity to Miami by sailing roundtrip from Miami.

Cuba Cruises, the newest cruise destination, originate in Miami. Visit Havana before the "modernization era" transforms the city. 

The Amazon takes you through Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. For a more in depth experience, Oceania Cruises offers a 3 week voyage around Cape Horn. Panama Canal cruises most often originate or end in Miami.

To do a transit through the Panama Canal, your best opportunity would be cruising from Miami to either San Diego or San Francisco or Los Angeles or the reverse.

For more sea time and great value, try a Transatlantic cruise. Best examples are Miami to Rome, Rome to Miami, Barcelona to Miami, Miami to Lisbon, or London to Miami.

Miami is calling. Are you answering? Call your Key Traveler cruise specialist, 888-539-1881.

Love to Travel. Love to Save.