– 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)
Folks, let’s face it. There are a number of travel agency business models that just aren’t working in our new economy.
I found out that last evening that one of the largest online agencies has effectively closed up shop with millions of dollars of debt and a number of cash paying clients (even luxury clients) apparently hung out to dry with no cruise and no money. What is truly disturbing is that its website is still functioning while its phones ring off the hook unanswered.
Before I go on: I don’t care what any other travel agency tells you, USE A CREDIT CARD NO MATTER WHAT. If you have an expensive cruise and need to pay in installments, do it. If you are concerned about “showing” cash, find another solution. In this environment there are big and small travel agencies really under the gun. If you use a credit card (not a debit card) you have real protection regardless if there is a problem with the travel agency or the cruise line. I would also caution that the credit card charge should be directly with the cruise line rather than the travel agency. Ask. Don’t Assume!
Clearly, travel agencies that depend on high volume/low profit cruises to fund their day-to-day cash flow needs are really suffering…and struggling. When an agency is making $50 net on an NCL or Carnival cruise there has to be lot of bookings to keep the lights on. What has happened, unfortunately, is that many of these lower cost reservations just stopped being made due to loss of job security, home equity and overall fear of what is yet to come.
Part of the reason for the problem is that the retention rate for their clients is less than 20%…because price, not service, is pretty much the singular draw to these agencies. I call this the “Love ’em and Leave ’em” approach. So with a low repeat rate and no real way to draw in new clients, these “Love ’em and Leave ’em” agencies are now trying to figure out how to stay in business, but they are for the most part “One Trick Ponies”.
Yes there are those individuals that purchase their luxury cruises on Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and Crystal…even Oceania and Azamara…from these discounters. They are, with only a couple of exceptions, really not getting a lower price and suffer with lesser service and now, to be sure, insecurities.
I know of no legitimate way to quickly take a “sell low cost, heavily discounted, cruises” model and turn it into a working model of a travel agency that creates loyalty and stability through good pricing (while not giving the cruises away) with great customer service.
So when looking to book your next cruise, or even maintain your present bookings, please be sure to be cautious. You might just even consider canceling your bookings deposited with cash or having them transferred to an agency you have faith will be there down the road. Now is the time to be sure you are getting the most for your dollar, not just what seems like the best price.
Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.