– 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)
Over the past months, including virtually every person who has called or emailed me about all the “free air” promotions that have been tossed about by the cruise lines…from Oceania to Seabourn to Silversea to, well you’ve got the picture, I have been saying “There is no such thing as free air.”
In fact, I had some rather heated discussions with Seabourn marketing department – which were successful!!! – demanding that only lazy travel agents and uneducated clients would be duped into believing the air was “free”, so don’t insult us. Call it “Air Inclusive”, but not free. See my article: Seabourn Offering Free Air. Is it Time? Does it Matter? Is it Free?
Similarly, I warned all that while you might think the credits for the “free air” told the whole story, you would be very wrong. That is because on top of the air price/credit are all those air-related taxes; hundreds of dollars of additional taxes.
It is this latter point that – as I knew would be the case – Oceania Cruises was just fined for omitting from its marketing materials. According to U.S. Department of Transportation, “The ‘free’ air fares, as advertised, do not provide adequate notice that certain taxes and fees, which properly may be stated separately from the advertised fare, must be paid by the traveler in order to obtain the ‘free’ air fare, nor of the amount of such taxes and fees”.
Silversea Cruises had a similar practice addressed on the other side of the Atlantic and it was required to pull all of its freshly printed brochures to correct a very similar situation.
You will note that Regent Seven Seas also changed from its sickening mantra of “free”, “free”, “free” to “inclusive”. And as so many of you have complained to me – regardless of the still lackluster quality of the line – its “inclusive” prices are simply outrageous. But, at least, it is correctly noting that nothing on a Regent cruise is “free”, but rather is “included”.
Now it seems that Iamboatman’s comments over the past months, both publicly (here) and privately (with the cruise lines) were spot on. And, while it created substantially more work for me as a travel agent – I refused to pitch the improper “free air” line that so many lazy travel agents did (and, alas, were actually the ones pressuring Seabourn- as an example – to offer it to combat Regent’s now known to be unlawful approach) – I continued to make sure my clients received the best value.
BTW, there are some excellent values in some of the “Air Inclusive” promotions – such as Seabourn’s Asia itineraries on the Seabourn Pride – but unless you utilize a travel agent that actually is working for you and has the ability to do it properly, you may well be spending thousands of dollars more than you need to…all because of being pitched “free air” that just isn’t “free”.
As for Oceania: I still believe it is a wonderful product with great itineraries and a fantastic new ship, Marina, on the horizon. I endorse the product and am pleased that its marketing is now in line with the consumer receiving accurate information in addition to a solid product.
Goldring Travel LLC
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