– Avalon Myanmar – Myanmar River Cruise – April 2017
*Azamara Club Cruises – Azamara Journey – Singapore to Dubai (April 8, 2018)
* Azamara Quest – Southeast Asia and Japan (February 2015)
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Part I
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part II
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part III
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part IV
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Some Final Observations and Thoughts
– The Prologue to the Travelogue
– The Adventure Begins…With a Bump or Two
– Settling In Made Easy
– Luxury Touches Here, There and OK, Not, Everywhere…But There Are Lots of Them!
– Asian Flair Onboard and On Shore
– Private Tours, Israel and Conflicts in Perceptions and Perspective
Celebrity Equinox 2009 – Egypt…Impressive and Depressing
– Dining With the Captain and the Reidel Wine Seminar
– The Last Dinner (Tuscan Grille) and Disembarkation
– What Happens When A Class Act Meets Highly Discounted Cruise Fare
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part I
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part II
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part III
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part IV (Food & Wine!)
– Princess Cruises Doesn’t Treat You Like Royalty; Celebrity Cruises Does! Which is a Better Value for the Upscale Cruise Guest? Part I
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. -Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part II: The Standard Veranda Staterooms
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part III: Treating You Right From The Start
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part IV: The Wine Lists Speak Volumes (As Do The Beverage Packages)
Regent Seven Seas Voyager – August 2017
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part I
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part II (Getting There, The Stateroom and First Impressions)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part III (“You Can’t Teach Five Star Service” and Bonafacio, Corsica)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part IV (Calvi, Monaco, Portofino, Porto Azzurro…and Stale Bread)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part V (My Last Day…and How The Chef’s Team Makes It Happen)
This summer our plans for the family vacation changed. (It is a long story.) The result: We just decided to take a 13 night cruise on the brand new Celebrity Equinox round-trip Rome, but visiting Israel and Egypt. (You can read my review of her sister, the Celebrity Solstice here. She truly wowed me.)
This is especially appropriate since Iamboatman Jr. had his Bar Mitzvah last weekend and he is thrilled!
So the first thing I did was find out what Celebrity was offering in the way of tours in Israel and Egypt. Regardless of whether you find them to be good value or if you never plan to find yourself on a bus with 50 of your new friends, there is lots of good information in their descriptions…and red flags as to what the “tourist” venues are going to be.
But in this instance there was a curious slant to the cruise line’s tour descriptions…and one I frankly never thought of: Israel is the holy land for many religions and Christians tend to fill the ships more than Jews or Muslims. So the tours were definitely focused on the majority. (I have no complaint with that at all. It makes sense from a business standpoint; giving people what they probably are most interested in.)
Then I thought, the Rabbi takes the temple’s high school kids to Israel every year, so the guides that he uses would focus more on what Jews would be interested in and they would be perfect for my kids. (See, it isn’t always about knowing where to go…but how to see and experience a place from different perspectives!)
So after doing more research, checking out the preferred and recommended operators, the cruise line’s offerings and the Rabbi’s recommendations, I found something which was quite troubling: I was able to book a truly superior, semi-customized, private tour for my family at about a third (1/3) of what the cruise line was offering as part of a group tour. I am sure the cruise line’s offering will be of solid quality, but at such a premium?
Aside from “That is another great reason to use a knowledgeable travel agent”, there are two other thing to be learned from this experience:
First, if you are unwilling to step outside of the confines of the mass market you will are paying a big premium just to feel a little safer and you will have, without question, a more “tourist” experience than a “personal” one…and, at times, you might miss exactly that which you are interested in.
Second, the cruise lines need to make money somewhere. I was able to book this cruise at a retail price of about $165 per day per person in a Concierge Class balcony cabin complete with champagne, upgraded amenities, daily hors d’oeuvres, etc. It is, without question, one of the most outstanding travel bargains I have come across. (You read about Alaska for $60 a day, but that is for an inside cabin; not an upper balcony on a Europe/Asia/Africa cruise.) Hence, the tours are a way to regain some of that lost income.
Now if you are happy spending $45 a person for a bus to the local beach rather than grabbing a taxi for $20 total for the four of you, so be it. But if you are willing to venture out…even if just a little bit…imagine how much more you can do – and how much better you can do it – if you take the opportunity to have a personal experience rather than just a safe one.
Goldring Travel LLC
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