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Beware of Misleading Cruise Promotions on the Internet

                                       Beware of Misleading Cruise Promotions on the Internet

Not a day goes by without us receiving an inquiry regarding confusing cruise promotions that clients are finding from Internet searches, other travel agency websites, emails in your inbox and brochures sent by the cruise lines.

If you Google a cruise line, most likely you will see paid ads from travel agencies that appear to be “Official Sites” from the supplier. Many of these websites are attempting to fool you in order to gain your business by advertising “Up to 81% Off” or some such hook to lure you in. 81% Off? Really? Can you get a $1,000 cruise for $190? Not happening.

The best way to find an official site is to type it in to your top browser bar. A few examples would be www.oceaniacruises.com, www.celebritycruises.com, www.vikingcruises.com , www.crystalcruises.com , and www.taucktours.com There are even some cruise lines that have shorter versions to make it easier to find. A few examples are www.rssc.com, , short for Regent, www.rccl.com, short for Royal Caribbean, www.expeditions.com, short for Linblad National Geographic. IMPORTANT. If you click on any of these, to finish reading this Blog, click the back arrow at the top of your browser.

2 For 1 cruises advertised by some cruise lines are from inflated “brochure” rates. Nobody pays brochure rates for those. Some websites may advertise “Fast Deals” which only show the cheapest cabins in any one category; inside, ocean view and balcony. Taxes and fees are often extra. Again, another lure to get you to make a phone call.

Everyone loves amenities, especially when they are free. You may find ads that have numerous amenities on select sailings. But, they may not apply to the cruise you are looking for, or, the top amenities may be for the highest price cabins, which are generally suites. Mainstream cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Carnival and Norwegian change their promotions quite often. Such changes may be BOGO deals (true buy 1, get the 2nd at half price), amenity changes, and cabin category rates. Watch out for the expiration dates and disclaimers.

We here at Key Traveler are advocates for true pricing and promotions. We all love to save money. But, there is no dollar amount that equates to trust. Finding you the right cruise or even the right land tour at the right price is what we do.

Happy Travels.

Cruise Ships in Danger of Overcrowding Ports

 

                  Cruise Ships in Danger of Overcrowding Ports

 I have been to many cruise ports around the world.

 Many of the most popular cruise destinations I have traveled to are filled to the brim with tourists from around the world, immersing in the cultural experiences, unique local eateries and possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the wonders of our planet far from home.

 Now, some of these cruise destinations are in danger of limiting the number of cruise ships that visit in order to preserve the integrity of the cities and towns and islands that have stood the test of time and offer the local flavor that attract us in the first place.

 Any of us that have visited Venice are enamored by the “canal” city, featuring St. Mark’s Square with all the cobblestone off-shoots that take us in various directions. I, myself, on various occasions, wish I had a GPS to get me back to the main square after wondering off and getting distracted by the unique shops and restaurants each diagonal takes me.

 Wonder down by the train station area which you can get to by gondola, or, if you prefer, just walk, and gaze at the scenery and architecture. Across the canal is Murano, famous for their glass sculptures where you can witness the plethora of colors and shapes of glass molding first hand.

 Now, the powers to be in Venice are limiting the number of cruise ships that visit Venice at any one time.

 Dubrovnik, across the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, is a relatively small but beautiful port. The government is discussing cutting the number of cruise visits in half due to the influx of cruise passengers wanting to visit. The number of visitors per year have increased from 3,000,000 to over 10,000,000 in only a few short years. Known for its beautiful scenery, sights and culture, Croatia only became an independent country in 2011. Since then, tourists have flocked there.

 Santorini, one of the most picturesque islands across the Aegean Sea, with its exquisitely clear waters, almost limitless volcano views and photo view of the famous Caldera, has been a favorite for cruisers for many years. But, it is a small island and only a few cruise ships can port there on any given day.

 The Galapagos Islands have limited the amount of tourists for a number of years. They are, perhaps, the most ecologically friendly place in the world, where humans are considered as foreigners encroaching on the endangered species, some of which are only found here.

 Cruise ships visiting the Galapagos are required to pass rigid standards of emissions in order to maintain the purity of the waters, thus protecting the underwater inhabitants. No more than 100 passengers per ship are permitted and the number of ships allowed have been shrinking over these last years.

Australia and New Zealand cruises only take place for the major cruise lines during our winter and early spring due to the "reverse weather" of the U.S. Those cruise lines that feature Australia and New Zealand book pretty quickly due to the lack of ships traveling there and the relatively short season. Why not put more ships there if it's so popular? Because the docking priveleges are limited and the best guided tour companies we book for our clients feature this destination in depth. 

 Yes, many of these cruise destinations and others thrive on tourism to bolster their economy and will continue to do so until it adversely affects the inhabitants and the culture.

 Traveling around the world, whether by cruise ship, guided tours or privately arranged, is a privilege we, as Americans and our Canadian friends, enjoy.

 Allow me to assist you to make your travel dreams come true.

It takes a Certain Kind of Traveler for Very Small Cruise Ships

              It takes a Certain Kind of Traveler for Very Small Cruise Ships

In my blog post on July 13 I discussed small cruise ships.

The ships from Seabourn , Oceania, Viking, Regent, Silversea and Crystal appeal to those of you that appreciate the more intimate, luxury atmosphere of traveling without all the bells and whistles that the large cruise ships tout.

How much smaller than those and why choose a very small , maximum 150 guests, cruise ship is the question.

For now, let’s just call this category the “expedition adventure cruise ships”. Scroll down to learn more.

 If you are more interested in the incredible itineraries that larger and even mid-size ships cannot navigate to, where the immersion to the local culture and cuisine is more paramount, then choose these.

If you would like a ship’s staff that shares your passion for travel in a more intimate way, then choose these.

If you enjoy a totaly relaxed atmosphere where casual dress codes are the norm, then choose these

If you wish to engage with a staff of naturalists, guest lecturers and historians, then choose these.

If you prefer guided tours accompanied by specialists more knowledgeable in the culture of many of the world’s most intriguing destinations, then choose these.

If you wish to travel with a maximum of 150 like-minded guests, (many are even half that size), then choose these.

I am not suggesting you can’t have a cruise adventure on a bigger ship. Miriam- Webster uses the definition of adventure as, “an exciting or remarkable experience.”

With the exception of the Celebrity Xpedition (not a misspelling) and her new sister ships, Xperience and Xploration, the leader in the field is Linblad National Geographic.

However, Celebrity fans that wish to enjoy the true experience of the Galapagos Islands on 7, 10, 11 and 15 day itineraries will not be disappointed. Click Here for sailings.

Every Celebrity Xpedition-Class cruise booked with Key Traveler comes with our exclusive Cash Back Rewards. Call 888-539-1881 for exclusive savings.

Linblad Expedition Cruises

The plethora of choices for Linblad’s expedition cruises range from travel to Costa Rica and Panama, exploring British Columbia & the San Juan Islands, Columbia and Snake Rivers Journeys, Whales & Wilderness in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, South Georgia & The Falklands, a Journey to Antarctica, Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Argentina’s Staten Island, and, of course, Machu Picchu & Peru’s Land of the Inca plus the Upper Amazon. And, there’s more. New! The Real Cuba.

View all the amazing Linblad trips Here. Call 888-539-1881 for exclusive savings.

Linblad National Geographic Explorer moves with the season, navigating her way from the south through Norway up to the Norwegian Arctic, Iceland and Greenland. How else can you get such experiences as a remotely operated vehicle to explore down to 1,000 feet of the polar ocean; remote-controlled crow’s nest camera broadcasting real time footage on high definition LCD video screens in each cabin; large fleets of MK-5 Zodiacs for landings and double kayaks for true adventure travel?

 Lest we forget, every Linblad National Geographic cruise you book with Key Traveler comes with our exclusive Key Traveler Cash Back Rewards. Call Today, 1-888-539-1881. Let’s talk about your first, or perhaps your next, adventure cruise.

“Love to Travel. Love to Save”

Small Cruise Ships. Smaller Cruise Ships Smallest Cruise Ships

 

                     Small Cruise Ships. Smaller Cruise Ships. Smallest Cruise Ships

Often, I get asked by my clients to find them a cruise on a small cruise ship.

Clients may have an idea in their mind what they are referring to as a “small” cruise ship.

Compared to all the mega-ships on the market, cruise lines like Oceania, Azamara, Crystal, Viking, Seabourn, and Regent Seven Seas can be considered small by most standards, but even those can be in different categories.

Oceania actually falls into two separate categories since their O Class, Marina and Riviera, are very different in size compared to their R-Class ships, Sirena, Insignia, Regatta and Nautica.

The smallest ships are dedicated to the adventure travelers and river cruises.

Adventure cruises include the National Geographic cruises by Linblad Expeditions, Un-Cruises Adventures, Barge Cruises, Tauck Small Ship Cruising and a host of lesser known lines.Look for a separate blog on these so you don’t fall asleep reading this one.

 For this article, I am setting the limit on the high range to 1,250 passengers and the low range to 458..

Small Cruise Ships. 900 to 1250 passengers

Oceania Riviera and Marina

These upper premium ship max out at $1250 passengers

As most of my readers know, I have sailed these ships numerous times. Each time I cruise on these ships makes me appreciate what upper premium cruising is all about.

Considered by many as the “foodies” line, the two identical O Class ships feature a full size, stadium seating Entertainment Theater, four specialty dining venues: Polo Grill, Toscana Mediterranean, Red Ginger Asian Fusion and Jacques French Bistro. There is no additional charge for those but reservations are required. Two additional dining options are The Main Ding Room and The Terrace Café.

The Terrace Café deserves a special mention due to the opulent selection of menu items such as cooked-to-order filet mignon, lamb chops, grilled shrimp, lobster tails, soup of the day, an elegant salad bar and a changing theme of the day array of freshly cooked food. Help yourself to as little or as much as you like in the casual atmosphere of indoor or outdoor dining.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Serenity 1,070 passengers

Crystal Symphony 922 passengers

Crystal Mozart, Bach, Mahler, Debussy, and Revel River Cruise Ships (Reserved for a separate blog on river cruises)

Crystal Esprit Yacht Cruise (reserved for a separate blog on adventure and smallest cruise ships. 62 passengers).  You can find this and Crystal River Cruises on our Home Page, www.keytraveler.com , in Cruise Finder. Just enter Crystal under Company Name & Click Search Cruises

Crystal has been voted by notable publications as “World’s Best Luxury Cruise Line”

My most recent voyage on Crystal while traveling with fiends presented an unusual experience.

The airline my friends traveled on lost their luggage and they had to board with just their “shirts on their backs”. Of course their attire was not suitable for dining time, albeit a bit stale from traveling. They informed guest relations of their predicament and requested in-suite dining while hoping their bags would arrive before the cruise commenced.

Shortly before dinner on the first night, with still no luggage, their butler knocked on their door and then escorted them to the apparel shop onboard. “Find outfits that fit and consider it a loaner courtesy of the cruise line “he said. What class!Fortunately, their luggage arrived the next day while we were still in port.

The elegant ships of Crystal boast some of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea with spectacular well-appointed staterooms. Lavish Penthouses feature private teak verandahs, a Jacuzzi tub and separate shower and butler service. Spectacular accommodations will make even the well-traveled guests feel right at home in sumptuous comfort.

Board your Crystal cruise and expect an incredible immersive enrichment experience on a myriad of special-interest topics, such as “Ballroom at Sea and the exclusive “Crystal Wine and Food Festival”. Onboard are experts in a variety of fields who will offer lectures and fascinating hands-on interactive demonstrations relating to Crystal only theme cruises.

Viking Ocean Cruises

Capacity 930 passengers

Viking is a relatively newcomer to ocean cruises. After many years offering the largest fleet of river cruises, the company “dove” into the blue water segment of travel. The pace of building this fleet is unprecedented, starting with the Viking Star, and including the Viking Sea, the Viking Sky, the Viking Sun and the Spirit.

Every stateroom has a balcony. Every stateroom has Wi-Fi. Every cruise includes an excursion while in port. How refreshing!

The reviews for Viking Ocean Cruises from my clients as well as others have only been positive. The staff is very accommodating and the ships are very well appointed.

Go to www.keytraveler.com. On Cruise Finder, Click Company and Viking Ocean Cruises. Search Cruises.

I am looking forward to my first experience on a Viking Ocean cruise.

Smaller Cruise Ships 500-800 Passengers

Oceania “R” Class

Includes Sirena, Insignia, Regatta, Nautica

Capacity 684 passengers

t all started 15 years ago when the now-defunct Renaissance Cruise Line went bust.

Renaissance was way overextended. Cruisers loved the ships and the experience.

Frank Del Rio had a vision. Take one ship at a time. Refurbish it to casual elegance. Up the game for the dining experience. And, make sure every sailing was the best experience it could be.

History has proven that Mr. Del Rio got it right. ‘Enough” said.

Regent Seven Seas

Regent Seven Seas Explorer Capacity 750 passengers

Regent Seven Seas Mariner and Voyager Capacity 700 passengers

Regent Seven Seas Navigator Capacity 500 passengers

The brochures from some of the other cruise lines say “All Inclusive”, but the only one that is truly an All Inclusive line is Regent Seven Seas.

So what does this mean?

How about Free Business Class Airfare, Free Unlimited Shore Excursions, Free included Gratuities, Free alcoholic beverages, Free Specialty Dining restaurants and more.*

Every stateroom is a suite. The staff to passenger ratio is as high as 1 to 1.36, ensuring the service you should expect from a luxury cruise line.

 Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Journey & Azamara Quest Capacity 700 passengers

Azamara is the “small ship” division of Celebrity Cruises. These two ships, like the Oceania “R Class” came out of the defunct Renaissance Cruise Line. The ships have constantly been refurbished to keep up with their high standards.

Why choose Azamara over Oceania?

Sometimes it is price, Sometimes it is the itinerary. Most of my clients have not sailed on both lines. If you believe in ratings, Oceania would be the first choice.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn Odyssey, Quest, Sojourn. Capacity 458 Passengers

Seabourn Encore, Seaborn Ovation. Capacity 600 Passengers

Seabourn was the first of the ultra-luxury class of all suite small ship cruises. 90% of their guests enjoy the private verandah experience.

Conde Nast has included Seabourn on their “Gold List” of small luxury cruise lines for 20 consecutive years. Why choose Seabourn? If you prefer the smaller, luxury class of vessels, Seabourn may be the right choice. Casual elegance. Desirable destinations. A new experience.

If you wish to chime in with your opinions, please feel free to send me an email. Your opinion counts.

 

 *Certain restrictions on Regent such as select air city, free business class air, exclusive shore excursions and high end wine choices may not apply.