Showing posts with label CruCon Outlet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CruCon Outlet. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Leaving Tradition Behind ~ Heading South for the Holidays

Hot steamy jungles thick with lush tropical plants and vines. . . 
Piranhas –  fish that like to eat meat – human, or otherwise. . .
Anacondas - snakes so large that they can eat goats. . .
Villages along a river bank, so small there is no organized tourism. . .
Now that’s a 180-degrees from the traditional Christmas tree and traditions, don’t you think?
You recall that last week I told you we were leaving holiday traditions behind this year and setting out to stretch our travel lifestyle. Well, this is where we are going to do just that. . . 
PicMonkey Collage
Tropical plants - South Pacific
We will be traveling up the Amazon River!
Slicing through Brazil we will be stopping at small villages on our way to Manaus, a thriving metropolis of 1.2 million people (complete with airport), overnight there, and start our journey back down the Amazon.
I know you are probably shaking your heads. . .your vision of us a la Bogart and Hepburn, clad in khaki-colored safari suits, my wide brimmed hat wrapped with mosquito netting, The Scout paddling our dugout canoe. . .(you can quit laughing now). . . 
Hate to shoot that adventuresome image of us, but we will be traveling on a cruise ship – an ocean going vessel, as a matter of fact. And we’ll be surrounded by top of the line luxury:

We’ll be traveling on Oceania’s Insignia, a ship that accommodates some 672 passengers and 400 staff. Small, by cruise ship sizes, but definitely top of the line luxury by cruise industry standards.

I should probably mention that in addition to the Amazon River, we’ll also be hitting our fair share of Caribbean islands – and that we’ll depart from and return to Miami, Florida with an itinerary that takes us to:


It is a VERY different trip for us, in many ways. . .we are sailing on a cruise line we’ve never tried before and the cruise at 24-days is the longest we’ve ever taken. We are going to an area that we'd pretty much never talked about before - if ever!

PicMonkey Collage

A huge difference will be that this cruise has no requirements for formal attire! We will leave the suits, and little black dresses and related shoes at home!! Aloha shirts will be The Scout’s formal wear and I shall make do with a couple of glittery tops – to wear with those Chico’s Zenergy pants, that I call my travel uniform.

loutro to kirkland 493 (1)We’ve also had to demonstrate a leap of faith – as we had to ship our passports off, along with a variety of documents including financial information, to a company that works with the Brazilian consulate in obtaining entry visas for U.S. citizens. (We didn't have to do that with the passports when trying to buy a house in Greece!)

I am happy to report, the passports were delivered to our front door by the postman a couple of weeks ago, complete with Brazilian visas attached. . .whew!

[Note:  Visas are required for entry into Brazil for American citizens – and they are not inexpensive. Documents are required, including bank account statements.  Depending on the company you use, it could range from $200 – $400 per visa. (luckily, the travel agent we used paid for the cost of our visas, as one of the many benefits we got by booking with them).  Some of you may have obtained your own but when you live in the Pacific Northwest, the nearest Brazilian consulate choices are in Atlanta and California – airfare to either would have made the ‘do it yourself’ option even more expensive.]

There’s a lot to study before we set out! We’ve loaded up on travel guides, novels and true stories about the Caribbean, Brazil and the Amazon.  So far it sounds as though I may often be quoting, Dorothy when she landed in Oz and said to Toto: “We are not in Kansas any more!”
Booking the cruise: I’ll spare the details of booking the cruise other than to say The Scout nailed a great deal by booking through our tried-and-true cruise travel agency, based in New Hampshire. While their lowest prices were comparable to that offered by others, their on-board credits and benefits far exceeded any others and included prepaid tips/gratuities ($720 value), a huge credit to on-board spending ($1,800), FREE unlimited internet ($525), and the cost of the Brazilian visas ($400)! Note: The deal was available to anyone – we don’t get discounts because of the blog or my freelance writing.
That’s it for now.  Happy Travels to you. If you’ve been to any of the places on the map above, we’d appreciate any recommendations or suggestions. We are linking up this week with our friends at:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Travel Photo Monday – Travel Photo Discovery 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sail Away Sunday–See the World (for a lot less!)

Another rain-drenched Sunday morning in the Seattle area has us dreaming of sun-drenched far-away places. . .the South Pacific. . .a luxury cruise ship. . .ahh, (sigh) yes, that’s where we’d be today.

And we are – in a manner of speaking – thanks to a feature article I wrote that appears in today’s Seattle Times Travel Section.

Solstice2013BFuji 235
Tahiti's Black Sand Beaches were as spectacular as the views from them

There’s no better time than now to start shopping for some great cruise deals. I  tell you where to look for them in the package of articles about repositioning cruises I wrote for the Seattle Times today.

Solstice2013BFuji 171
Pape'ete our first port of call as seen from our Celebrity Solstice ship

There are exotic ports of call to be discovered inexpensively from the ease and comfort of a cruise ship on what the industry calls a repositioning cruise; when ships are moved from one part of the world to another for a new season of sailing. 

That was the type of cruise we took last fall on the Celebrity Solstice, a cruise that introduced us to French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia. (In fact the reverse of that cruise, 18 days, is only $2,400 per person on one of the sites I list in the article.)

Solstice2013BFuji 329As part of the package I wrote I’ve provided a list of great money-saving web sites to use when booking (or researching) a cruise.

And a list --that’s designed to tempt  those in the Pacific Northwest in particular -- of some great repositioning cruises – ranging from overnighters to 30+ days that will arrive and in the fall, depart from Seattle or Vancouver, British Columbia

Click this link to the story at Seattle Times Travelthere are great deals out there just waiting to be booked! 

Happy Travels! And a big welcome to our new followers and subscribers – and thanks to you all for the time you spend with us.

We are off to do some winter storm watching on the Washington Coast – how about you? Off exploring this week?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Sailing to Oceania

“You are sailing to where?!” 

Oceania. . .you know, that region also called the South Pacific

We’ll be boarding our old favorite, the Celebrity Solstice this fall in Honolulu bound for Sydney, Australia.  Our journey by sea to the land ‘Down Under’ will take 19 days to complete.

As shown on the map above, our route will take us through the Pacific Ocean with stops at a few of the islands that make up French Polynesia, give us a sneak peak at New Zealand and provide two long, lovely stretches of leisurely days at sea. 

As seekers of great adventures at great prices, you know we sometimes have to have patience while waiting for the travel gods to bring those concepts into sync.  We’ve had this routing on the radar for at least two, maybe more, years.

KOafternoon2013 008

And, as seekers of great adventures at great prices, we know we  must be able to act when opportunity knocks on the computer screen.

Oahunorthshore2013 073
It rapped while we were in Ko Olina last month.  There it was in an email announcing the week’s Top 20 Travel Deals sent by Travel zoo. 

Even better, it was offered by our friends at Crucon, the New Hampshire on-line cruise agency that we’ve used (and recommend highly) for our recent cruises.

The Scout did a quick comparison of other cruise web sites we use, we checked dates and within hours of reading the email had made a deposit to hold the room.  We’ve learned good deals go fast.

SilhouettePt12012 069

The Good Deal:  The price of $2,199 per person guarantees us an outside balcony cabin, (my favorite place on the ship!) and includes prepaid gratuities ( a savings of about $450) plus complimentary alcoholic and specialty drinks (a savings of about $900 per couple over purchasing the cruise lines “drink package.”)

This illustrates our mantra: There are travel deals to be found out there.  Check TravelnWrite’s Deal Finder page for other tips on finding deals.  We’ll see you back here for Travel Photo Thursday!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Getting into the “Spirit” of Cruising

On a Sunday in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be setting sail from San Diego, California on our old friend, Carnival Spirit.  In all, our five-day cruise will give us two days at sea and two days to explore Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

It will be a rather quick trip, compared to a cruise we took on this same ship five years ago.  That one took us as far south as Acapulco on Mexico’s western coast.  This one will provide what we are seeking: a shot of sea and sun – a change from our slate-gray Pacific Northwest.  An added bonus is Cabo; we've never been there so plan to do some exploring during our short stay.

HAL 2009 cruise photos 026This trip is one of those that one minute wasn't on our radar and the next minute it was, thanks to a last-minute travel deal we couldn’t pass up – our favorite kind of travel.

Joel's travel bug was roused by the cruise price he saw in an email we received from Travel Zoo . We made a quick call to our cruise specialists at CruCon Cruise Outlet who offered the same good rate, so we booked with them.

Since our 2007 cruise, the ship has undergone some major renovations in preparation for its repositioning later this year to Australia. 

Our first day at sea we’ll log a few miles on the pedometer just exploring on board and getting into the Spirit of this 88,500 ton ‘Fun Ship” that carries 2,124 passengers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

We ARE ‘cruise people’

After our Black Sea cruise last year, we weren’t sure this mode of travel still appealed to us. . . now, after our trip across the Atlantic, I can tell you that it does!  We’ve decided that we most certainly are ‘cruise people’ 
solsticetransatlantic 016 But we are still neophytes when compared to others we meet on these voyages.  One couple with whom we dined one night was on their 36th Celebrity cruise and had also logged 11 on other ships. . .another woman announced at breakfast that this was her 53rd cruise and she wasn’t going ashore in the Azores – she’d been there before.

Booking a cruise:
We were so taken with this cruise – and Celebrity cruise line – that we did visit the ‘future cruises’ desk our first morning on board. . .and we’ve tentatively booked ourselves on this same ship for a cruise in November 2012.

We’d booked the transatlantic crossing through  CruCon Cruise Outlet, and were continually impressed with the attention to detail and service they provided.

Example, we wanted ‘anytime dining’ and not a set seating. We didn’t make the cut-off for that so they got us a table for two at a window. . .a nice touch, indeed!
solsticetransatlantic 034
CruCon had some 500 people on this cruise of 2,700+ which is why we got such a good rate; as it was sold as a group rate – with the only ‘group’ part being in numbers.  So large were our numbers that the agency had three staff members (‘Ambassadors’) sailing with us, who set up a desk in the ship’s lobby and attended to our needs as readily as ship’s staff.

Our ‘ambassadors’  hosted a cocktail party for us and sponsored a variety of other on-board activities – so many that we skipped several of them.  Their service was great and we are using them as our travel agents for the upcoming cruise.

Note: If you are considering a cruise – on any cruise line – and want to contact CruCon their US toll free number is 800-493-6609,  If you book a cruise for the first-time with them, mention referral  Number 45617, for an additional $25 off whatever other discounts they provide. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are we Celebrity "Cruise People"?

We've been a bit flummoxed about cruising since returning from our Black Sea adventure last fall.
And we are flummoxed about why we are flummoxed.
The ship and our cabin were fine.
The routing, well. . .interesting, but we won't be rushing back.
Maybe it was the dreary weather?
Whatever it was -- or wasn't -- we've been asking ourselves the last few weeks:

"Are we cruise people?"

And while analyzing our inner-self traveler, Joel, the researcher, has sought out, monitored and researched various cruises . . .just in case we might try it again.   

His system: Three P's: 
Ports of Call,
Price and,
Problems of getting to and from the departure/arrival ports.

One cruise in particular had caught our eye: a repositioning cruise on Celebrity cruise lines.  A repositioning cruise is one in which the cruise line needs to move a ship from one location -- say the Caribbean to another, like the Mediterranean, for an upcoming season of sailing and wanting to fill it up, offers some great deals.

A few weeks ago we checked it out on our old favorite Cruise Compete, an on-line company that provides quotes from a variety of travel agencies throughout the United States by submitting a single request for pricing. 
Seven agencies responded. 
Five of the quotes received were for the same cabin category -- on board credit incentives differed slightly -- but the prices differed by more than $200.
One of the highest quotes we got was for a view obstructed balcony!  

Still, we didn't book anything and continued to ask ourselves,
"Are we cruise people?"

But the scales tipped when an email arrived last week from Travel Zoo with it's summary of 'best travel deals this week' we saw 'our' cruise listed with a lower price for a "Concierge Class" cabin (higher up on the ship and more amenities) than the quotes we'd received for a regular balcony cabin.

 We called CruCon Cruise Outlet , the agency offering the cruise, and within 10 minutes had answers to all our questions and had selected our room as the agent told us which cabins were available so we could look at them on our computer while we talked with her. (In contrast, on the HAL cruise, we didn't get our cabin assignment until a few days before sailing - which always causes a bit of wonder about whether you really will get a cabin or if they overbook like airlines.) 

Our contract for the Celebrity cruise was emailed within minutes of the phone conversation and a receipt for our deposit arrived yesterday.

Still, because we'd not used this company before, I did a bit of  research. Yes, they are licensed and bonded. Even more comforting was the opening page of their web site. . . it's wall-papered with cruise line awards for sales, professionalism and testimonials from happy customers.

So far this cruise has been a good experience. 
We will again ponder whether we are 'cruise people' during those languorous days crossing the Atlantic later this year.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...