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Cruise Bargains and Deals

I held my monthly Meetup for Cruise and Travel Lovers of North Palm Beach, Florida, yesterday and was asked a question I had never heard before. Someone looking for cruise deals and bargains asked me if there was a “waiting list” for cruises.

Map of Florida highlighting Palm Beach County

Map of Florida highlighting Palm Beach County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I responded that any cruise that was sold out should usually has a waiting list of people wanting to get a cabin should some other traveler cancel. These waiting- list- travelers are usually required to ante up a $50 per person refundable deposit, just so everyone knows they are serious about taking the trip.

My member said, “No, I mean can I go to the port and wait and see if there is an empty cabin and buy it right there and then and get a deal on the price? Why would the cruise lines sail with empty cabins if someone is willing to pay to sail?”

That was a new question for me! The answer is, “No. You can not sail “stand by” like you can fly “stand by” on an airline.” (Even flying stand-by requires you to have a ticket beforehand.) While you can go to the airport ticket counter, you cannot go to the cruise line ticket counter because there isn’t one.

In fact, you cannot even enter the port without having documentation that you are going on a cruise or have some other business there.  Homeland security also needs to have your papers reviewed at least three days before departure.  If you aren’t on the manifest, you aren’t going to sail.

English: Disney Cruise Lines' Disney Wonder in...

English: Disney Cruise Lines’ Disney Wonder in Port Canaveral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are looking for last-minute cruise deals and bargains like this woman, please contact me or any other travel agent. We continually receive notices of unsold cabin space. If you can travel at the last minute, especially out of “season,” there are deals to be had and we get the first notices about them. If we know what you are looking for ahead of time, so much the better.This time of year, though, any cruises to warmer weather destinations are likely fully booked and would require you to get on a waiting list, which I am certainly happy to arrange for you.

Happy travels and smooth seas from Susan at http://www.susanmcdanieltravel.com! Contact me there, or at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com.

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Travel Tips from Susan McDaniel Travel Facebook Page, Part 1

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561-841-2224
www.susanmcdanieltravel.com

Travel Tips from Susan McDaniel Travel Facebook Page

Visit my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/susanmcdanieltravel.com
Or check out my blog at
www.susanmcdanielcruisenews.wordpress.com

 

Every week on my Facebook page I offer up travel tips. Here’s a compilation of some recent tips.

Your travel tip of the week: Go to Wal Mart and buy a few disposable rain coats/ponchos for your trip. They are cheap, don’t take up much room, and might come in very handy!

Your travel tips of the week: On your next cruise take along one of those magnetic bag clips. They will stick to the walls and help keep all the papers and notices you receive organized in one place!

Travel tip of the week: Don’t let your toothbrush sit on the counter in the hotel bathroom. Take the paper cup provided for the coffee and punch a hole in the bottom. Turn it upside down and insert the toothbrush handle. Voila!

Your travel tip of the week comes from my friend JoAnn: If you wear sandals to the airport, stash a pair of socks in your carry on. Put them on when you take your shoes off for security. It is downright creepy to be walking barefoot where a million other feet have been.

Your travel tip of the week: Before you drive away in that rental car, use your camera or phone and take pictures of the car from every angle. Use a time/date stamp. May save you a world of headaches later!

Susan McDaniel Travel’s travel tip of the week: Do not get hit with crazy “talk, text, data” bills when you travel. Just because your phone, I-pad, etc. works overseas or on the cruise ship, that doesn’t mean you should use it without thinking. Get an international SIM card and avoid the after-vacation sticker shock!

Susan McDaniel Travel’s travel tip of the week: Save those perfume and cologne samples that come in magazines and direct mail. Use them when you travel. No liquids to lug or worry about spilling or getting through security, and you can still be nicely scented.

More tips to come at a later date….or visit me on Facebook at Susan McDaniel Travel and get this information and a lot more.

Do’s and Don’t of New York City

More cruise lines than in the past are using New York City as a departure port. The opportunity to discover New York City before or after your cruise, or anytime, gives rise to some do’s and don’t associated with NYC adventure.

1.) Do give yourself more than one day to explore this vibrant city if you can manage to do so.

Don’t miss the chance to spend even one day here if that is all you have available to you.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

A beautiful overview of the city from the Empire State Building

2.) Do fly into Newark, NJ if it is cheaper for you than flying into La Guardia. It is easy to get from Newark to Penn Station in NYC via NJ Transit.

Don’t even think about using Amtrak for this short jaunt!

3.) Do plan on seeing the Empire State Building first thing. It will give you perspective and a beautiful overview of the city.

Don’t buy the tickets there! Purchase them ahead of time and cut your wait time in half. I can get tickets for you.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

Your destination looms

4.)  Do have lunch in one of the many Irish pubs.

Don’t rush. And don’t stick to your diet, either.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

Have lunch at one of the many Irish pubs

5.)  Do dress comfortably and wear sneakers. You will be walking everywhere.

Don’t wear sandals or your blisters will have blisters. Trust me. I know these things.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

I loved playing tourist in New York City

6.)  Do stop and have an afternoon cocktail.

Don’t let your cousin talk you into having it at the St. Regis unless you don’t want to be able to afford to eat for a week. Although the Bloody Mary’s are legendary, and delicious.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

The bar at the St. Regis, NYC

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

The drinks are delicious but the bill will knock you over! That’s my cousin. His idea, our bill.LOL 

7.)   Do drop by the New York Public Library.

New York City travel bu Susan McDaniel Travel

5th Ave. and the New York City Public Library

Don’t expect Rockefeller Center to be very impressive unless it is the dead of winter,  the Christmas tree is up, and the ice rink is in use.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

Rockefeller Center iin the middle of summer

Rockefeller Center, in New York City.

Rockefeller Center, in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8.)   Do enjoy Midtown and save the other areas like the World Trade Center, Wall Street, Chinatown and more for another day.

Don’t think you can see it all.

New York City travel by Susan McDaniel Travel

Looking uptown from the Empire State Building

9.)   Do plan to come back at a later date.

And don’t forget to book your cruise, too. Cunard has the Queen Mary 2 sailing roundtrip  from NYC to St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados and St. Kitts departing December 22, 2012. Other itineraries by other cruise lines are also available. Call me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com for  information and schedules.

Seven Tips to Avoid Seasickness: Smooth Cruise Sailing, Part 2

After the last blog post about avoiding seasickness on a cruise, readers wanted more specific suggestions. In “Five Steps to Smooth Cruise Sailing” I suggested that you entrust your travel consultant with many of the arrangements to make you and your party comfortable. I still recommend that you do this, but here are seven more specific tips.

1.) Get an outside cabin with a balcony. You want to be able to see the horizon as a stable point of reference if you start feeling wobbly. The fresh air will also help.

A nice verandah will help you avoid being seasick on a cruise.

2.) Get the biggest cabin you can afford so you don’t feel closed in and confined. You will feel like you are in a luxurious hotel rather than on a ship!

A larger cabin will help you avoid feeling claustrophobic and keep you comfortable.

3.) Let your travel consultant chose the cabin’s location. You want to be in the middle of the ship, on a lower level, to prevent as much motion as possible.

4.) Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water and eat lightly (if you can resist all the goodies!) for the first day or two.

Drink lots of water and eat light, if you can!

5.) Don’t have your heart set on a specific itinerary. Be flexible. Due to routes and ocean currents at certain times of the year, you will be more comfortable leaving from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the winter months rather than leaving from a more northerly port. Then, in the Caribbean for example, you will feel better if you head east initially through the protected waters of the Bahamas, and turn south rather than heading straight south to Aruba and then heading north. There are many variables and these are only suggestions. Let your travel consultant scrutinize your chosen itinerary and make suggestions.

6.) Caribbean waters are generally calmer when you travel in the fall after hurricane season ends November 30 (or even mid-November), and spring (March-May). Other areas have their own “seasons.”

7.) Stick with the ships that have state-of-the-art stabilizers. Your travel consultant can guide you to the right choice.

Certain cruise lines have better stabilizers built into their ships.

You can never be sure that there won’t be some rocky days, but you can certainly increase your odds of smooth sailing by doing these simple things. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me at 561-841-2224 or susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com. An unfounded fear of rough seas  prevents too many people from enjoying the wonderful experience of cruising. Don’t you be one of them. Once you cruise you will definitely do it again. I’d love to be the one to introduce you to this type of vacation.

Five Steps to Smooth Cruise Sailing

Cruise rookies worry way too much about getting seasick. This issue shouldn’t be a problem for most cruisers, but there are five steps you can take to assure yourself of smooth sailing.

Step one: Find a travel agent with boating experience. Cruise experience does not count. You want someone familiar with  boating basics like currents, prevailing winds, and other environmental factors that affect your journey. It’s best to work with Mother Nature rather than work against her.

Blue water and no white caps

Step two: Let your concerns be known. It is completely normal to be concerned about getting seasick on your cruise vacation, but most people are embarrassed to even mention it. Don’t be embarrassed! Speak up so we can make sure you have a wonderful trip.

The view you want to see!

Step three: Be flexible on your dates of travel, your itinerary, and the cruise line. Different times of year are less apt to be rough, as are different routes. If you want to go the Caribbean, for example, think about going later in the spring or in the fall. If you want a winter Caribbean getaway, be open to starting your cruise out of San Juan or points south.

Cruising Mt. Pelee

Step four: Trust that your travel advisor has your best interests at heart. The location of a cabin or the choice of a ship has a big impact on the motion of the ocean. You may be asked to pay a bit more for a cabin less prone to motion. Your comfort is well worth the extra $30 or so. Also, listen to your travel advisor’s tips about what ships are equipped with state-of-the-art stabilization systems, and which ones aren’t.

The correct ship is crucial to smooth sailing

Step five: Visit your doctor and get a prescription for an anti-emetic drug. You will see many people wearing little round “patches” behind their ears. These dispense medication throughout your cruise to keep you comfortable. Be advised, however, that this medication doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t work for me. Bring along some Dramamine or Bonine, some crystallized ginger, and ask your travel agent about other remedies before you set sail, just in case.

Another beautiful cruise day ends!

Getting seasick shouldn’t be much of a concern if you follow these guidelines. Cruising is a fabulous way to have a relaxing, fun-filled vacation. You will never look back once you try it. But that initial trip needs to be the best it can be. You can be a major component in making it so if you follow these steps. Then you’ll wonder why you stayed land-locked for so long! Cruise once and you’ll be hooked. I guarantee it.

Contact me at 561-841-2224 or e-mail at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com with any questions about smooth sailing or any cruise related matter. I’d be happy to answer any question you  might have. You can also visit my website at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com and start planning your cruise vacation right now.

Four Tips to Make the Most of Your Cruise Vacation

Here are four tips to make the most of every moment of your cruise vacation!

A Pre-Cruise Stay

Pre-cruise stays and tours in the departure city are a great way to arrive early for your cruise, get into the spirit of your escape, and start your cruise refreshed. You can also book a tour the day before your cruise, or even the morning of departure. Get to know the departure city. It might be Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, San Diego, or San Juan.  All are great tourist destinations, not just departure ports. Miami Beach can prime you for that Caribbean vacation with its beachy, playful, fun vibe.

Miami Beach is a great pre-cruise destination

Departure city tours and pre-cruise stays can be booked through either your cruise line or several wonderful tour companies.  Contact me at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com for a complete rundown on what’s available to you

There is no rush to arrive at the port on embarkation day. Boarding lines can be long and people can get testy;  that’s not the ideal way to start your vacation. It may be better to spend a few hours enjoying the sights of your departure city rather than waiting in line at the cruise terminal. Now that’s a good way to make the most of your cruise.  

 

Take Advantage of Things to do On Board

Once on board, be sure to read the “ships log” that arrives in your cabin each evening. This “log” lets you make the most of your time onboard by announcing the events for the following day. You’ll want to know when that first run movie in the theatre is scheduled to start; what band is playing in your favorite bar; the menu for the cooking demonstration; where the Scrabble contest, the Karaoke sing-offs, or the Toga party is being held; or what the Bingo Jackpot is worth. Even if you don’t think you might enjoy something, just stop by and see what you think. Memories of these events, and the people in them, are sometimes what linger longest after the cruise is over. And memories make the most of your cruise.

Bingo

The bingo games onboard have huge jackpots

Doing It All in Port

Once your itinerary is established, but before you even leave home, check out the available tours and shore excursions.

The tours and excursions offered by the cruise line are usually great, but they are not your only alternatives for onshore experiences.  Ask your travel agent for recommendations (my blog is devoted mostly to reviewing shore excursions for you) and peruse travel guides and online sites to familiarize yourself with the attractions at each destination. Then you can customize your own travel experience in each port, should you decide to do so. Attending the port information lectures onboard can actually alert you to where NOT to go if you are looking for an authentic experience rather than one orchestrated by the cruise line.

St. Lucia aerial tram tour

You would miss the natural beauty of most islands without a shore excursion or tour

Whether you decide to use the scheduled tours or develop your own really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you get off of the ship and enjoy each port you visit to make the most of your cruise. I am a great believer in shore excursions.

 

Post Cruise Stays

A post-cruise stay helps ease you back into reality.  It may help you make good flight connections for a leisurely trip home, too.  If you are flying a long way to meet the ship you should optimize the time and expense of the trip and add on a few days to enjoy the city of disembarkation. Why not see Disney World when you are in Florida? Or jaunt around Rome? After all, you never know when you might be passing that way again.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World

You’re going to be in Florida anyway. Why not visit Disney World?

 

Cruising is an exciting, affordable, and relaxing way to vacation. But be a participant in your own getaway. Take advantage of the pre-cruise tours, the onboard fun, the port activities, a post-cruise stay, and other opportunities to make the most of your cruise.

 

An insider tip for those of you who have read this far: When driving to catch a cruise ship or flight, remember this tip.

Many hotels near cruise ports and airports allow you to leave your car in their parking lot for the duration of your vacation if you stay there before your cruise or flight. You can save hundreds of dollars in parking or taxi fees with this perk. Think of it as a free night to unwind before your trip!  Contact me at susan@susanmcdanieltravel.com or 561-841-2224 to plan all of the details of your next cruise or land vacation.

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