Picking the right cruise line, the right cruise ship, to match your personality as well as the environment you are heading off to visit. A good example of the little stuff that can make a big difference is the main pool area. Depending on who you are and what you enjoy the main lido pool area will be something you visit often, or at the very least it is an area that you will walk through on your way to the buffet on most ships.
Take Alaska for example... it is a rain forest. It never rains heavy, but it can rain a mist like drizzle everyday. Even when the weather is clear, it is rarely over the mid 60's and with the breeze of the moving ship, it can be chilly to say the least.
To account for this (and other weather anywhere in the world), Holland America Ships have a retractable roof over the lido pool... on every single one of their ships.
On a sunny, warm day you get an outdoor pool, with the sun shining though (above)... but look close, you see the dark rain clouds approaching. A few minutes later (below) you can see that the roof is closed and the pool area is still a great place to be.
These photos were taken on the Holland America Koningsdam, in Fort Lauderdale. The majority of the people by the pool are on a back to back sailing, and they are waiting for the next set of passengers to join them. The Koningsdam is a beautiful ship. More to come in future blog posts.
We are here to help you find the right ship for you, and where you are heading.
Everyday I hear from clients, and I read in the news people who are confused about passports, and other ID requirements. This blog post is not intended to say "If you go here then you need this document" as that would be unfair. Everyone's situation is different. But in general the following guidelines apply.
Flights (from anywhere to anywhere!) Starting in October 2020 you will be required to have either a REAL ID compliant ID or a passport. A Real ID is a state issued drivers license or state ID with a star in the corner (see image below). Every state has a way to get a Real ID, and in most cases they are the same cost as the standard ID. They do require more documents to get however. You will not be able to fly anywhere after October 2020 without a Read ID or a passport.
International travel... requires a passport. There are a few minor exceptions (see below) but assume a passport is required. They also must have 6 months or more left prior to expiration by the end date of your trip to qualify.
Exceptions... certain closed loop cruises can be done with just a birth certificate and an ID. Depending on the cruise line, these are generally not very common. There are strict rules for these cruise to qualify. If you have an emergency you could have serious problems not having a passport. But if everything goes well, you will be fine in these cases.
Passport Cards - these are intended for commuters who live on the border and cross it regularly. I do not recommend them, you cannot fly with a Passport Card.
What happens if I don't have a passport or some other document required? You will be denied going on your trip. Period. This is a matter of US and international law, there is nothing that can change it. If it is required then you MUST have it. No travel insurance will cover these denials, and no refund is typically give by the provider. However, working with a professional can avoid these issues all together. We ask the right questions, and give the right advice to ensure that you know what to expect.
How about Emergencies? For a vacation, there is no such thing as an emergency. The government will make no exceptions for personal travel. What if I lose my passport, etc. while out of the country? You can have an emergency temporary passport created so that you may continue to travel. This is an expensive and time consuming process. You will be stranded in the country where you are until the new document is issued.
What can I do to reduce the risk? Have copies of your passport info page in multiple locations. Place one copy of each passport info page into at least 2 different pieces of luggage. Also, leave copies where you can have a friend or family get them at home. Finally, take a photo of your info page on your phone. If you have the numbers on the info page and can prove you have a passport, the process is much easier in an emergency. You may even be able to travel home on your copy of the passport.
My personal routine... at the first stop sign from my house.. I ask my wife to show me her passport, and I show her mine. This way we know 100% that we left the house with them and they started the journey with us. (the most common thing to happen is to leave the passports at home and not notice until you get to the airport and its too late!)
In the end... speaking with a professional travel agent/adviser can prevent these problems... and since we at TowPath Travel work for you at no cost... why not let us take care of you! We will take great care of you.
(When I talk to people about what I do, I often hear..."Wow, I didn't think anyone used a travel agent anymore"
This couldn't be further from the truth. Here are the facts from some recent reports...
In 2017 (the latest stats) travel agent sales were up 4% to $9 BILLION in bookings. This is almost 70% of all tour and package bookings. When you add in cruise bookings, the number is still at almost 70% and growing! https://www.travelmarketreport.com/articles/Travel-Agents-Continue-to-Dominate-Cruise-and-Tour-Sales
Travel agent cruise sales increased 5 percent in 2017, according to Phocuswright, “outpacing the overall travel market to reach $11.5 billion. Despite OTAs' earlier attempts at selling cruise, two thirds of cruise sales still go through traditional travel agents – and that's not expected to change much through 2021,” Phocuswright said in its report.
Even Carnival Cruise, promotes Travel Advisers as their preferred way of booking a cruise with a website dedicated to "Why Use a Travel Adviser". ( http://wuata.com/ )
Honestly... if you just want a weekend in Denver to visit family... sure you can do that on your own (though I can help if you want!). But when you want a VACATION, then give me a call, or email. I cost nothing to use. I usually get you discounts you can't get on your own... you never lose!
I recently was working with a few clients, and I was reminded that the most common thing I hear is "My friend ___ said this is a good cruise."
Sure, it maybe, but let's talk about it and make sure. As I ask questions, and we chat, I get an small idea of who you are, and what you might like. There are some basics that hint at what you will enjoy.
Kids on the ship or not? Partying all night, or nice quiet dinner? The types of stage shows, the types of activities ... high end food, or basic food. Or... and this happens a lot... you just don't care and will roll with whatever you get. (That's OK too!) Most of the time when someone says they have not liked previous cruises, it means they were on the wrong ship, or the wrong cruise line for them.
There is no one size fits all... but there is something for everyone!
This photo was from a cruise we took on the Carnival Sunshine. This entire group of hundreds of people in the atrium were about to break into song and sing along (Sweet Caroline! Bum, Bum, Buhhhm). This happens a few times during the cruise, deck parties, atrium parties, bands, etc. I am sure several people reading this said "Awesome, that sounds like fun" and several others said "No thanks, I'll pass"... and that's the point!
Work with an expert who can give you the guidance to make smart choices... we never stop you from picking whatever you want... we never limit your choices... we just help you make informed choices.
Welcome to the new TowPath Travel blog. As with most hosting changes, the content of my old blog is gone. So now we are starting over again.
Old content will come back new, and updated. Fresh new content will be posted here regularly. Join me for the discussion, send me your blog ideas email@example.com send me your trip reports and they may get featured here (with you permission of course!)