Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hotel Review - The View - Monument Valley, Utah

Hotel Review - The View, Monument Valley Arizona

Imagine the most amazing sunrise you will ever see - a purple sky with a yellow streak and shadows of three amazing buttes right from your room balcony.  The silence, the stars dotting the sky and the sky changing from purple to dark blue to yellow as the sun comes up within 20 minutes.

That is what you will see if you stay at The View in Monument Valley from any room on the property.  It is a very long drive to get there, but you'll be happy you made the trip because it was an experience like no other. Staying overnight at the Grand Canyon, we experienced sunrise there the night before and I remarked that I will never see another sunrise like that again, but I was wrong because the next day when we opened the curtains at daybreak, my breathe was truly taken away at the views from this hotel.

The hotel itself is located adjacent to the Monument Valley Visitor Center and is not much to look at from the front - you'll see a squat adobe style hotel when you pull up. However it is placed perfectly as a perfect angle so that every room has a view of West Mittens, East Mittens and        buttes.  At check in, you'll be in a lobby that is distinctly Native American with a round fireplace in the center and much Native American decor. 

We had requested a second floor room which ran us about $200. We were given room 216 in the center of the hotel. Thankfully this hotel has an elevator so we went to our room as soon as we got in and threw open the curtains to see the magnificent view of red rock everywhere, huge buttes as far as the eye could see.   Our room had two beds, a decent bathroom, refrigerator, desk, t.v. and balcony made for watching sunrise and sunset.


The room was very clean and the beds comfortable. We opted not to drive into the park until the next day but did explore the hotel to see the different views. We got a cup of coffee at the restaurant and then sat outside to enjoy the view. The hotel has one restaurant which is sit down but the food is still cafeteria food, with a very basic soup and salad bar and small menu choice. You are in the middle of nowhere so that is your only option unless you want to drive to Gouldings for McDonalds or Burger King. We made due for dinner and breakfast was a bit better with a buffet.  At check in we were given coupons for $5off the breakfast buffet and it cost us $17 for both of us.  The buffet was the usual scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes and french toast which ran out and took awhile before it was refilled.  There was also oatmeal, cereal and some fruit.

We debated about taking a tour the next day or driving ourselves and we opted to drive ourselves and were glad we did. The tours that are available (starting at $55 per person) were on open Jeeps going very fast over bumpy road. Not only do you need to worry about getting filthy from the dust the Jeep kicks up but also of your back and neck as you bounce over the bumps. One advantage of the tours though is that they Native Americans can go off the main path into an area that is not permitted unless you are on  a tour.

We spent about two hours after checking out exploring the park. The many buttes have different names and you can look and see different figures in the rock formation - Elephant Butte, Three Sisters, Mittens, etc.  The colors change as the sun travels so it was a very interesting place. We also saw wild horses , it was a beautiful way to spend a day.

If you have the opportunity to stay here and explore Monument Valley, take advantage of it to see the most photographed canyon in the world. Look for the images you've seen in the many movies that were filmed here. Sit in the spot that was said to be John Wayne's favorite when he filmed in the Canyon. You'll love "The View".

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cruise Review - Norwegian Breakaway - NYC to Bermuda

Before you read this review, you need to know two things:
-I really like Norwegian Cruise Lines
- I see things, as a travel professional, you might never notice. I have to so our clients don't find any surprises if they travel to the same resort, hotel or sail on the same ship.

I recently sailed on the newest ship sailing permanently from New York City, the Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian has been kind to New York by offering year round sailings, going to Florida and the Bahamas and Bermuda on one of their two newest ships.

The Breakaway can carry 3,969 passengers and with the exception of the pool area, never seems crowded. There are 29 different dining experiences, Broadway shows - Rock of Ages, Burn The Floor, and Cirque Dreams Dinner Theater.  There is never a lack of things to do on this ship and none of the issues we found would prevent us from sailing on the Breakaway again.  We use a grading system for each category.

Embarkation- C.  We arrived at 11:15 at the pier and embarkation is by deck number. Directed to the middle bank of check in desks where three agents were checking people in,  there were only seven people/cabins in front of us and it took 45 minutes to get checked in. I asked the agent if a lot of  people called in sick since there were so few people for check in. His response? "We take a lot of long breaks". Our friend are platinum members who have priority check in and they arrived 20 minutes after we did and their check in took almost an hour. When their room passes were being printed, the agent  had to walk so far to the printer for their cards it took added five  minutes to their check in time.

Cabins- C.  We had cabin 11247, an interior cabin forward on deck 11 just past the studio lounge. Our room was in an alcove with other interior cabins and we thought it would be quiet and cozy but we were wrong, except for the "cozy" part.

Entering the cabin there was a desk to the left, bathroom to the right, closet with safe and shelves and shelves hidden throughout the cabin for small items. There was a footstool which doubled as a seat for the desk and a hairdryer under the desk. The stool top flipped up which gave a bit more storage. This stool proved to be pain in the neck. Every time  we tried to put it as far under the deck possible, an extra piece on the hairdryer fell off.

All the storage space was in the closet, no drawers to put clothing. There were four shelves, one  deep one, the rest very narrow with one holding the safe. There was also a shelf on top of the closet. There were lots of hangers. We stored our luggage under the bed but if you want to put more than two people in an interior cabin, forget it -the storage is woefully inadequate.

The noise in the cabins was terrible in the ship area we were in. The doors are extremely heavy and open out, and if people don't hold the door when entering or exiting, it slams shut loudly. We were constantly awakened by the people next to us in the middle of the night and then at 6 AM when they came and went from their room and slammed the cabin door. To top it, we constantly heard noise above our cabin up until 1 or 2 AM that sounded like carts being dragged. On day three, after being awakened the first two nights from noise, I finally went to see what was above us. It was an area open only to staff that they must have been moving carts around and putting metal away. One call to Guest Services resolved the issue once we knew what caused it.

We did visit a balcony cabin and there was sufficient room in that cabin, including a sofa. Other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity put a small chair or couch inside their interior cabins which makes a huge difference so you have a place to sit in the cabin.

The Haven is the exception to the rule on NCL ships. This area is where upscale cabins that rival the best on any other cruise line, even having one and two bedroom suites. All cabins in the Haven have their own courtyard area and pool that other guests cannot use, as well as their own restaurant. The cabins here are gorgeous and service is outstanding.

Norwegian also has Studio Cabins that are meant for solo travelers.  People sailing on their own usually pay 100% of the cruise priced for two people.  These Studio Cabins eliminate the surcharge for sailing alone. These cabins also have their own "living room", a public area only open to Studio guests where they can meet and mingle with other solo travelers. There are sign up boards for people to meet for dinner, activities and excursions so they don't have to experience these things alone.

Room Steward/Cleaning - C. Our room steward's name was Joel and he didn't speak English very well. As soon as I got into the room, I noticed that the rugs were dirty on each side of the bed, where the two twin beds were pushed together.  I called Joel and asked him to vacuum the rugs after all the luggage was distributed.  We also asked to have the refrigerator mini-bar cleaned out so we weren't tempted by the expensive snacks and we had room for our own beverages.  Joel told us to call "00" to get the contents removed.

We came back from sailaway at 8:50 PM and the rug wasn't vacuumed nor was the mini bar cleaned out. I called Joel again and it was clear he had no idea idea what I was asking so I went down to Guest Services to make the request.  The gal at Guest Services said that Joel called her because he didn't understand what I wanted. She told me the room would be vacuumed tomorrow. I also told her the mini-bar still wasn't taken care of either.  When no one appeared by 10:00, we just went to bed and lo and behold at 10:45 there was a knock on the door and we were awakened to have the contents taken out of the refrigerator, put in a bag and stored in the closet. I could have done that myself.

The room was vacuumed the next day and we even had a gift in the bathroom. NCL needs to make more of an effort to insure that staff that is on contact with passengers has a better grasp of English than Joel did. He was very nice but not understanding that the carpet needed to be vacuumed was a poor reflection of his duties.

Sailaway: A.NY is always magnificent and a view I never tire of sailing from here. I've sailed when the Twin Towers were present, sailed after 9/11 when the pile could be seen and you could hear a pin drop as the ship went past as passengers were silent as a tribute, and now with the new Tower built. I still get chills going past the Statue of Liberty and of course were in Spice H2O for the count down going under the Verrazano Narrow Bridge.

Food - B+  I don't sail  for gourmet food but I do like a decent meal and there were plenty of choices on this ship. The food in the main dining rooms was good. I had delicious steaks, good pasta, nice vegetable dishes, good sushi and found the variety in the buffet to be good. One particular plus is the fact that you can get ice cream at the buffet almost all the time and not just soft serve cones, there was an ice cream station with five or six different flavors that were scooped and changed daily. I also discovered pretzel rolls! I am not a bread eater but those rolls were delicious and I ate them as much as I could.

There is a Sabrett hot dog cart on the main pool deck where you can get hots dogs at certain times of the day and a grill on Deck 16 above the buffet where you could get hamburgers and sausage.
We didn't eat at any specialty restaurants except the Sushi bar because we were unable to make reservations before we left. We were attending a seminar on the ship and because we weren't sure what nights we would be free, we couldn't make plans in advance. By the time we knew what days we'd have open, there were no reservations available, so do yourself a favor and make sure you make reservations if you want to try one of them.

One restaurant we didn't care for  was O'Sheehans. The restaurant is the 24 hour restaurant and I heard many people complimenting the breakfast. We had lunch and dinner there and were not impressed. I ordered a corned beef sandwich which was probably the worst corned beef I ever had. Another party with us ordered a hamburger and said it was awful. They changed their dinner menu daily and one night was all you could eat ribs but after my first two attempts, I decided I wouldn't eat there again.

There is a Carlos Bakery which was over priced.  On the Epic, in the Atrium was a coffee bar that had free cakes and pastry. On this ship, Carlos' Bakery has taken over and there are no more free snacks.  There is also a Gelato Bar on the outside of deck 6 where you can purchase gelato.

One area that is different on this ship is Ocean 678. You can eat outside at most of the specialty restaurants on this ship on these decks. There are also some bars here and it is a great place to sit that is quiet to enjoy a drink.

Entertainment - A  Norwegian and Royal Caribbean hands down have the best entertainment at sea on our opinion.  This ship is no exception.  From the Broadway quality production of Rock of Ages (this show is NOT for the kiddies!) to the outstanding dancing in Burn the Floor, to Second City Comedy, you won't be bored on this ship.  Fat Cats is a blue club with great jazz and blues at night. We sat in on Second City a few nights, and had some fun watching parents and kids getting slimed  by the pool at a show and enjoyed Nickelodeon characters such as Sponge Bob, Patrick, and Dora the Explorer with the kids.

There were health seminars in the gym, plenty of trivia contests, Bingo and of course the Casino where one of our friends even walked away from BlackJack a winner.

Pools -  While this ship had several pools, they were the smallest pools I have ever seen on a ship. The pools are all in the center of deck 14, they are inadequate for the number of people on board. The adults only pool is by the Waves bar in front of the stage. It deceivingly looks large, but the pool is not swimmable - the deep area is in the center and there are two large areas on either side that are ankle deep for sitting in and possibly hanging your legs into the big pool.

The kids water park is a great area for the little ones and in between that area is another pool for families but again, not swimmable. We saw people standing shoulder to shoulder in both pools.  I believe that the cruise lines purposely do this so that people don't spend much time in the pools, they dunk themselves and get out and order more drinks. We missed the H2O zone that the Norwegian Epic had. The H2O zone is strictly for adults most of the day and on the Epic, there was a pool under the movie screen. It was a quiet area for adults to sun and swim and they took it off the Breakaway and moved the pool to the center of the ship. All that is still in the H2O zone are hot tubs and chairs.

The water park had Nickelodeon characters and a spray park for the kids and very shallow water for toddlers. Thankfully the kids were in school when we sailed because I can't imagine how the pool area fares when the ship has 1,000 kids on it during school breaks.

One area that was a lot of fun are the water slides.  There are two regular water slides plus two water slides with straight drops.  There were lots of screams as people stood in the tube and the floor was dropped from under them!

Activities - A Besides pools, the Breakaway has a rope course and a "plank" to walk. There is mini-golf, basketball, a climbing wall, jogging track, and teen lounge and video arcade. There is a library and bowling alley inside the ship as well as Kids Clubs for the little ones. Wine tastings, martini tastings, enrichment classes, all held throughout the day.

Another thing you might want to try is the Svedka Ice Bar. For $20 you get a half hour in the ice bar and two drink coupons, good for either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. You'll be given a cape and gloves and should wear long pants and closed toed shoes, but it still is awfully cold in there. I was out with my second drink after 10 minutes, it was just too cold for me. I didn't see anyone who lasted a half hour.

Staffing - B One thing we clearly tell our clients is that if you want five star service, you won't find it on NCL.  That isn't to say that the staff doesn't try - they just don't have the inclination to rush to get anything done.  For instance, in the buffet restaurant, many times there were tables weren't cleared promptly,  which was an issue during prime times.  Several times the coffee machines were empty at breakfast, especially the one on the outside deck. This requires a long walk inside to one of the other coffee stations. We had to request cream twice because the creamers were empty as well.

Sometimes there was someone manning the ice cream bar, sometimes there wasn't. We had no spoons one day at breakfast for cereal, the spoon holders were empty.  One or two nights service in the main dining rooms was very slow or the drinks were forgotten about. One night the waiter never even asked if anyone wanted a drink from the bar. The supervisors for dining need to really step up to the plate and watch what is going on. It was extremely annoying to be asked every five minutes on the pool deck is we wanted a drink too. 

As I stated about the noise above our cabin, that was a staff area where the staff wasn't considerate of what was going on under neath them when they are moving carts, dropping metal objects, etc. Others might have suffered through the noise, we knew to complain and it was fixed once we complained. 

These things do add up so if you know what to expect, this shouldn't ruin your cruise, but be aware that you won't get excellent service on any NCL ship.

The Ship hallways - D - Getting around the hallways on this ship was quite inconvenient and anyone that is handicapped and using a walker or a wheelchair will be highly inconvenienced during the day when the cleaning carts are in the hallways.  The handicapped accessible cabins aren't  near the entrance ways in the hallway - many are down corridors that a wheelchair or walker can't get past with carts, which are out from early morning until the afternoon and then again at night.One person can barely fit in the hallway between the cart and the wall.  The hallways need to be wider and whoever designed these ships should know to put the handicapped accessible cabins near the hallway doors and elevators.  Andy Stewart - please get this fixed on the new ship being built!

Theater seating - D - Another area we said "who on earth designed this?" There is a metal bar on the bottom rear of the seat  that is not upholstered BUT - you have to sit on it anyway. These seats are the most painful seats I have ever sat on.  One night when we were early to the theater we watched a couple get up and down 16 times to try to find a comfortable seat before they finally realized all the seats had this metal at the back and were uncomfortable.  Everyone we sat near we heard saying something about the seats.  The whole theater really needs to be re-upholstered.  Otherwise, the theater is purposely built so there are no columns interrupting your view. Bring a pillow or something soft to stuff on the back of the seat so you don't have the bar up your butt.

Disembarkation - B+ - The only reason I didn't give this an A is because of the lack of Immigration agents when we left the ship. And the fact that luggage wasn't always placed with the proper ticket color.

Norwegian allows you to choose the time you want to disembark, which I love. Since we were taking the train home and didn't have to make a flight, when we got off didn't matter. (Hint - if I did it again, I'd take the earliest disembarkation time. With that, you can get off any time after that tag color is called rather than having to wait to have your color called. There was quite a while in between colors being called to disembark.  Once we got to the luggage claim area, it was chaos. We found one bag but the other bag was in a totally different color tag area. 

We were directed to the right hand line by the staff in the terminal. Big mistake to listen  when the agent said 'It doesn't matter which line you take'. Well, the right hand line only had two agents (and one had to take the Elite Latitude members off a separate line first). and the left hand side had six. And then a center line was made for those who were smart enough to ask for a porter to take their bags out and they were zipped out first.  We waited on line for an hour to get to a Immigration agent and get out of the building while the other line sped through in about 15 minutes.
Hint: Observe and see how many agents there are before getting on a Customs line.

All in all, none of the issues we had were enough to not sail Norwegian again. We have a future cruise credit we will be using for another cruise. If you set your expectations properly. you shouldn't be disappointed with  a Norwegian cruise.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Avoiding Illness When Flying

With the current Ebola crisis in Africa, people are beginning to panic about flying and the possibility of being infected with this virus on a plane. In reality, it is far easier to become infected with a cold or the flu from the person next to you hacking without covering their mouth. What can you do to try to avoid being contaminated with "something" when flying?

Hand washing is the number one way to try to stay "illness proof" whether traveling or in every day situations. When using the rest room, sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself while soaping and washing your hands. They say washing at least 30 seconds will a healthy dose of soap help kill  bacteria.

When leaving the rest room after washing your hands, use a paper towel to touch the door handle. If you are in one of these new washrooms that only have air blowers for drying, throw a package of tissues in your bag or pocket and use those to touch the door handle.  Nothing is worse than taking the time to wash your hands only to become infected from the slob before you that didn't wash their hands at all and touched the door handle. We recently sailed on the Norwegian Breakaway and  every public rest room had a paper towel dispenser and garbage can right by the door, along with a sign that asked guests to use a paper towel when touching the door.

Baby wipes come in travel sizes - buy them and use them liberally.  When you get into your seat on a plane, take them out and wipe off your seat belt closures, the seat pocket and your tray table and arm rests, particularly where the controls for the t.v. or headphone are.

When using the bathroom, bring your wipes and wipe down the seat, the basin and door lock/handle before touching them.  Wash your hands and use the paper towel to open the door after you exit.

If you have a cold or illness where you are coughing, please be considerate of others around you and cough into the crook of your elbow. Coughing into your hand and touching the seat trays or arm rests can contaminate others sharing your space.  I no longer look at people who wear those paper masks as crazy anymore - it might be my newest fashion accessory when flying.

Travel with a bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel and use it, especially after using handrails. I am not embarrassed to hold a baby wipe and slide it down the railing when I am getting on or off a plane or using stairs either.

Using common sense and a few travel tools will help cut your chances of coming home with an illness you didn't leave with!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A River Cruise To China

River cruising is the fastest growing travel trend and a river cruise in China can open a world of wonder for the adventurous traveler. Sailing on the Yangtze River is one of the best ways to see what China has to offer with it's rich history. Since most people will visit China once in their lifetime, the best way to see China is with a river cruise plus an add on of several days to see the Great Wall, Guilin, Shanghai and the Terracotta Warriors. Most river cruise lines offer itineraries of  11- 15 days that combine the amazing views from the Yangtze River with inland wonders mentioned above.

The optimal times for a river cruise in China are April - May and September to October. Weather is warm and mild and flights prices are relatively stable during these months. June - August will be hotter but pricing will be lower.

The Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world. Most river cruise lines visit the Three Gorges, a 100-mile area  between Nanjin Pass in the east and White King City in the west. The Three Gorges Project, started in 1971 and finished in 2009 and was designed to alleviate annual flooding and to save lives.  It created the world’s largest reservoir, and raised the level of the Yangtze River by about 570ft. It also  submerged towns and villages. The dam supplies 15 per cent of China’s hydroelectricity power.

A sample itinerary would begin in Beijing, where you'll visit  Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China and a rickshaw tour. Then you'll move on to Xian, one of the most culturally rich cities in China. Tour the mausoleum where Emperor Qin Shi Huang was laid to rest over 2,000 years ago.You'll see thousands of life-sized Terra Cotta Warriors, archers and infantrymen that were buried with him.

You’ll then be taken to Chongqing where you’ll board your ship for  your trip down the Yangtze River. Visit Shibaozhai Temple, a 12-story pavilion built in 1650 along the Yangtze. Then it’s time to enter the Three Gorges.  This series of limestone ridges has towering cliffs on both sides of your boat.  There are amazing sites to see, such as the hanging coffins of the Ba people.  You’ll also pass through 5 locks in the evening.
On the following day, it’s time to disembark to view the Three Gorges Dam and learn about this marvel of engineering. At the end of your cruise, you’ll fly to Shanghai for several days of cruising before returning home.

Your China River Cruise will be an amazing trip that you’ll never forget. Call us to book or learn more


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Let Me Tell You About.....Oahu

When one thinks about flying to Hawaii, most people immediately think of Honolulu, which is located on the island of Oahu. Oahu is the island most visitors fly into as the first stop on a trip to Hawaii. If you are cruising on the only seven night cruise itinerary on Norwegian Cruise Line, you'll embark on your ship in Oahu.

Oahu is the third largest island in the Hawaiian Islands and has the largest population. If you are a surfer, the north shore of Oahu is the premier surfing destination where you'll find the wildest waves.  The urban city of Honolulu, with its skyscrapers and Waikiki Beach lies next to the Diamond Head Crater (great spot for hiking).

Flights arrive at Honolulu International Airport (HNL), Hawaii’s major airport located about 20 minutes from Waikiki. All major domestic carriers and many international carriers serve Oahu. You’ll find the majority of hotels and resorts in Waikiki, but there are also three other resort areas - the North Shore, the Leeward Coast and the Kahala area, east of Honolulu. Did you know Oahu hosts  Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa, possibly the most beautiful family resort anywhere?

There is something for everyone on Oahu.  There are many natural wonders like Diamond Head and the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Learn to surf in Waikiki and then take in a luau. Learn about the ancient history of Oahu at the Iolani Palace, King Kamehameha Statue and the Kawaiahao Church, all within walking distance of each other. Try the regional Hawaiian cuisine and take in the nightlife – you won’t find the caliber of nightlife on any other island as there is in Oahu.

A trip to Oahu is not complete without taking at least half a day to visit Pearl Harbor.  Visit the USS Arizona Memorial, where the remains of 1,177 servicemen still lie underwater after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.  You'll also have the opportunity to visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial, where Gen.  Macarthur accepted the Japanese surrender that ended WWII.  You can also visit the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. 

Use Oahu as your gateway to the other popular islands, such as Maui, Kauai and the big island of Hawaii. Most are a short plane ride away (20 – 40 minutes) and many people stay a few days on each island so they have the full Hawaiian experience.
Many cruise lines offer cruises here from the West Coast of the United States.  Most are at least 10 – 14 days and have several sea days each way. NCL is the only cruise line that has a 7 night cruise that disembarks from Oahu and goes to Kauai, the big island and Maui before returning back to Honolulu.

Call us to book your dream vacation and excursions to Oahu! 516-608-0568.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why Do Solo Travelers Pay As Much As Two in a Hotel or Cruise Ship?

When you look at advertising that shows prices of a vacation, you usually see a notation "per person, double occupancy". That means the price is based on two people in a room or cabin. If you are a single traveler, you will usually pay the same price as if there was another person traveling with you.  Did you ever wonder why?

Hotel rooms and most cruise cabins are equipped for two people, in either a queen or king bed or two doubles so that two people are comfortable in that room. On a cruise ship, the beds are either twins or pushed together to make a large bed for two. If you travel solo, you still have access to a room for two people (and much more space for yourself)  and you will usually have to pay the same rate as if you were traveling with a companion.  Business travelers deal with this all the time - they pay the same price for their room as if two people were in the room.

Some cruise lines do not charge the full two person rate for a cabin - some may charge only 50% or 75% more versus 100% more if they are offering a sale. One cruise line, Norwegian, has several ships that have cabins made especially for solo travelers that do not charge for two people called Studio cabins. These cabins are much smaller than a normal cabin and specifically made for one person in the cabin. On the ships with these Studio cabins, NCL also ensures that they give guests in those cabins the availability to meet up with others who are traveling alone for meals and tours.  They have a lounge specifically for the guests in the Studio Cabins as well as activities in the lounge that allow solo travelers to meet and interact with each other. These cabins are a hit with guests and other lines are looking at doing something similar.

With pricing for two people, this will allow a hotel or ship to charge additional fees for a third or fourth person in the room/cabin. The hotel/cruise line recoups extra money for the costs of providing service to more than two people, such as toiletries, towels, complimentary items, etc.

 On a cruise ship, the third and fourth person rates are typically lower than the first and second - but not all the time. If a ship is nearly sold out, I've seen instances of the third and fourth person charges higher than the first and second - to encourage you to book a second cabin rather than put that many people in one cabin. Cruise ships also have to deal with Coast Guard capacity limits and sometimes they stop selling triple and quad rooms to ensure they remain under capacity. 

On occasion, you may see a cruise line or tour operator state "single supplement waived" or their single supplement is not 100% of the usual price. Some river cruise lines have sales where they
waive the single supplement and some tour companies have a small single supplement add on. For instance, we have a group tour of Ireland traveling in April of 2015 and the single supplement charge is an additional  $275, instead of doubling the price for solo travelers.  If you are a solo traveler, ask your travel agent if there are any current specials.

There are also limits on the number of people you can put into a hotel room or cruise cabin.  Most rooms will only allow up to four people in one bedroom.  Again, fire and Coast Guard regulations limit the number of passengers in a hotel or ship for safety reasons.  If you have more than that number traveling together, you will often need to book two rooms or cabins unless there are suites available that can accommodate more people with an extra bedroom or pull out sofas.

While we are on the subject - don't try and book a room and put more people in it than are allowed. Housekeepers have to come in to the rooms to clean them and they know how to determine how many people are actually in a room.  If you get caught, you'll have to pay the full price for the room and you risk being asked to leave the hotel.

Your travel agent can be your most valuable resource when booking a vacation as a solo traveler - ask if they have any single traveler specials.  Call us to book - 516-608-0568.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hyatt Jumps Into the All Inclusive Market!

Hyatt Hotels has taken a giant leap into the all inclusive resort with their new Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva resorts in Mexico.  The Zilara brand are adults only (age 16 and up) all inclusive resorts and Hyatt Ziva resorts are made for families.

The first Hyatt Zilara resort is now open in Cancun Mexico in what was formerly the beautiful Royal Resort. Set on a gorgeous stretch of beach in the Cancun hotel zone, this all suite hotel offers cold towels and champagne upon arrival. There is butler service at the pool and beach and in suite double jacuzzi's. You'll have use of 15 restaurants, bars and lounges, a spa, fitness center with Pilates instruction and more. There are poolside and beachside bali beds and two large whirpools.

The first Hyatt Ziva family resort opened in Los Cabos just minutes from downtown San Jose del Cabo and the airport. Here you'll find six a-la carte restaurants, two gourmet buffet restaurants, a Martini Bar, spa, seven pools, yoga, a childrens program and nighly entertainment on property.

Soon to be open - Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara in Rose Hall Jamaica (late 2014) and Hyatt Ziva Cancun in 2015.

There are great booking incentives for these new resorts.  Call us at 516-608-0568 to find out the latest and let us book your all inclusive vacation for you!