Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Seabourn Black Friday Sale!

Goldring Travel is having a Seabourn Black Friday Sale!


Book any Seabourn cruise and you will receive $500.00 or more off the published Seabourn suite cruise fare (whether it is double or single occupancy)...That is any Seabourn cruise that can be booked today...in any category other than an Oceanview Guarantee.  (You will receive a discount on Oceanview Guarantees too, but it will be fare dependent.)


Your discount may be right off the retail price or as an onboard credit or a combination of the two.  And if you book one of the higher category suites or a longer cruise you will definitely receive an even greater discount!

The only requirement is that you pay the required deposit or final payment (if the sailing is within 90 days) when you are given the discounted price by Goldring Travel. Remember that Goldring Travel never charges a change or cancellation fee, so if you later decide to cancel or change your cruise there is no charge...except if you cancel it within the Seabourn penalty period of 120 to 150 days (cruise dependent).

 

Goldring Travel is one of the World's Top Sellers of Seabourn cruises so you will not only receive great pricing, but world-class advice and service!  Our motto is our business plan:  Be Treated By Your Travel Agent As You Will Be Onboard!  So why are we holding this sale?  To introduce Goldring Travel and then earn your travel business not only for this cruise, but for the rest of your life.

This offer is good from today, November 26 through Monday December 1, 2014 and is subject to availability and prior sail.  No discount can be applied to taxes.  All prices and payments are in U.S. Dollars.  This offer may be withdrawn at any time.

Interested?  Give Goldring Travel a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY, UK:   020 8133 3450 AUS: (07) 3102 4685 Everywhere Else: +1 732 578 8585 or email eric@goldringtravel.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Is An Unethical and Dishonest Travel Agency? - Holiday Travel of Lake Charles, Louisiana Is a Great Example Of What To Look For

The other day I posted an article on the Goldring Travel Facebook page concerning the 2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise.


I had various travel agent friends who "liked" the post and someone posted a cute comment about some dogs that are common to Norway (although they are of Finnish origin).  But then...I saw a post from Sonny Duplantis, of Holiday Travel, of Lake Charles, Louisiana posting his telephone number, the name of another travel agent and a host of wildly inaccurate information under the guise of being motivated only by a "support your local travel agent" desire.  I deleted the post and advised Facebook of the impropriety of same.

I also contacted Holiday Travel and, not surprisingly, I received an email back that it did nothing wrong.  So I did a bit of digging - saw that Sonny Duplantis, of Holiday Travel, was a textbook example of what to watch out for and thought, "What a great example of why travel agents have such a bad reputation".

And what a great companion article to the one I posted just the other day:

How Do You Effectively and Efficiently Book a Cruise by Yourself? You Don't!


The first thing I noticed was that its website: http://www.gowithholidaytravel.com is horribly written. The sentences are incomplete and the grammar is about as bad as it gets.  Warning:  If the travel agency's website that is trying to get your business is unprofessional and shows a lack of care, you probably are going to have issues with your booking also being unprofessional and dealt with a lack of care. 

The second thing I noticed is that Holiday Travel claims to be everything to everyone.  "Holiday Travel has  Luxury Division Travel Specialists. We can now help you with Seabourn, Silverseas, Cunard (Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Mary), Crystal, Viking, and Uniworld River Cruises along with Tauck and Insight Vacations. Princess cruise sailings from Baytown (Houston)
Royal Caribbean cruises  sailing now year round from Galveston. Go to www.GroupTrips.com/holidaytravel for all of our bus trips"

Once you get past the errors such as it is Silversea (not Silverseas) and it is Queen Mary 2 (not Queen Mary), and Viking River Cruises is not (and does not claim to be) luxury, nor is Princess or Royal Caribbean, you find a reference to "Bus Trips".  So I look and see that these bus trips are about as low end as possible offering only continental breakfasts (no other meals) and many evenings spent at "enroute hotels" a/k/a low end no-name motels.  I also noticed that its group trips are pretty much only bus trips and short Carnival/NCL cruises with a few longer ones thrown in...with no details provided.  Warning:  If the travel agency that is trying to get your luxury business is also selling low end $500 bus trips and short budget cruises there is a very high probability that it has no ability to properly service your inquiries and providing the proper nuanced information you personally would desire regarding cruises...no less luxury cruises. 

The third thing I noticed is that Holiday Travel has online cruise pricing while it claims "The prices we have and the prices you get directly from the cruise line or tour company (even if you are a member of their frequent travel plans or have a special offer) is the same and in some cases our prices are better." So I took a look at the pricing for the 2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise and found that Holiday Travel is charging over $5,000 more for the same V4 suite I am offering...and it does not include any of the exclusive special events I am providing.  Warning:  If a travel agency claims it offers the same prices as the cruise line, RUN AWAY...especially if that dubious pitch immediately follows it's link to bus tours...because if it is offering you nothing and has no proven reputation, then you are asking for trouble.

The fourth thing I noticed is that it only has offerings for only a few vendors.  For example, Holiday Travel only offers river cruises from Viking and Avalon.  While there is nothing wrong with those lines (if they meet your desires), the fact is that there are many different river cruise lines, including more luxury orientated lines.  Warning:  If the travel agency seems to only offer a limited number of cruise lines you probably are going to be pushed into one of them even if it isn't the best match for you...either because they only sell a limited number of suppliers or they are not familiar with all of the options.

The fifth thing I noticed is that while Sonny said he was only suggesting that people use a local travel agent, it states right on the Holiday Travel website "1-888-xxx-xxxx (out of town)"! And, to make matters more dishonest, the website also makes a pitch for outside/part-time travel agents to work from their homes.  Warning:  If a travel agency claims to be focused on only selling locally, but actually isn't, it probably is being dishonest about other things too.

The sixth thing I noticed is the email address. If a travel agency can't establish an email address with its URL (like ripoff@gowithholidaytravels.com) which costs about $20 a year, there is a clear indication that the agency may not be all that it seems to be. There are a number of unfortunate people that have lost their vacations when a seemingly legitimate travel agency took their payments directly and the travel agency then did not pay the cruise lines, hotels or insurance companies.  Can you imagine turning over $20,000 for a luxury cruise to a company that makes it's money selling $600 bus trips and cruises?  While the lack of a customized email address may not be a strong indicator of such financial games, why risk it?  Warning:  Make sure the travel agency either has a long history of providing excellent service or your payments go directly to the supplier.  If the agency refuses to pay the suppliers directly: RUN AWAY.

I could go one, but by now you get the idea:  Holiday Travels of Lake Charles, Louisiana may be a legitimate travel agency, but it unquestionably engages in unethical and inappropriate conduct (such as posting on the Goldring Travel Facebook page a competing post with wildly inaccurate information...while charging over $5,000 more for the same cruise!).  So with that I paraphrase Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry:

In all of this excitement I kinda lost count.  Do you feel lucky?  Well...Do you?

When it comes to selecting a travel agency do your research.  Ask questions.  Check its website. While a great travel agent can be a tremendous value to you, unfortunately we all know of ones that can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare.  You are your best protection...and now you have a bit of a better idea how.

Now:  Interested in getting more information about your next luxury vacation?  Contact me...I really know what I am talking about and have the experience...with a focus on creating the best vacation for you and with the goal of booking your travel not one time, but for the rest of your life!

Call me at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine (and Beer) Cruise - Norwegian Fjords & Arctic Circle on the Seabourn Quest - June 13, 2015

2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise
Norwegian Fjords & Arctic Circle Seabourn Quest - June 13, 2015
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Goldring Travel is always looking for the next unique culinary and cultural experience that goes above and beyond while avoiding the duplication of itineraries.  We have traveled through the Mediterranean,  the Aegean Sea, the Bay of Biscayne, the Danube, Rhine and Main Rivers, and even the Southern Atlantic visiting such countries as Greece, France, Malta, England, Ireland, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and more.  

This time we will travel to through the breathtaking Fjords of Norway and the Arctic Circle to the northernmost point of Europe.  (That is a Bucket List item for many just by itself.)  But there is more to the 2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise than an event or two!  I will be holding a number of  Complimentary Goldring Travel Food & Wine Events on shore plus the always incredible Private Food & Wine Tasting with the Seabourn Chef. (Since Norway is not known for its wines, this is where some unique and extraordinary wines will be paired with Norwegian delicacies!)  

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The itinerary is both comprehensive and relaxing, so there will be plenty of time to explore, enjoy the scenery and wildlife, and just sit back with a nice glass (or two) of wine.  Filled with breathtaking beauty, incredible experiences from strolling through quaint towns to fishing and crabbing to kayaking, hiking, kayaking and, of course, enjoying a wonderful slow pace in a region that has no reason to rush anything.  You also will experience the true Land of the Midnight Sun.  

June 13 Copenhagen, Denmark    
June 14 At Sea     
June 15 Flam, Norway  TR   
June 16 Scenic Cruising Sognefjord    
             Alesund, Norway   
June 17 At Sea     
June 18 Svolvaer (Lofoten), Norway     
             Scenic Cruising Trollfjord
June 19 Tromso, Norway   
June 20 Honningsvag, Norway     
              Scenic Cruising North Cape     
June 21 At Sea     
June 22 At Sea     
June 23 Olden, Norway  TR   
              Scenic Cruising Nordfjord
June 24 Scenic cruising Hjelterfjord  
              Bergen, Norway   
June 25  Stavanger, Norway  
June 26 Cruising the Skagerrak Strait  
June 27 Copenhagen, Denmark


So what does Goldring Travel have in store for the 2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise?

  • A truly Norwegian Culinary Experience with stockfish (salt cod), Artic char, lamb and goat cheese...with cloudberries, of course,  in an historic, fishing village;
  • A visit to an Ice Bar where we will enjoy Aquavit and Norwegian wines and cocktails (and with your complimentary Goldring Travel jacket you will be warm and toasty!)
  • A Viking Meal (updated to 2015, of course) including smoked reindeer and goat (as well as lobster and lamb...so those not so adventurous will be well taken care of!) which will be paired with five locally brewed Norwegian beers.
  • A Surprise Event!
  • An Ensemble Experience Shore Excursion (to be determined).
  • A Private Shopping with the Chef
  • A Private Food & Wine Tasting Onboard the Seabourn Quest.



Without giving the Surprise Event away, let me tell you about some of the past Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise events:
  • A private tours and tastings at Chateaux Margaux and Chateaux Lynch Bages in Bordeaux, France; 
  • Dining on Caspian Sea sturgeon caviar eight ways...and then making caviar (with aquaculturally raised stock) in Montivideo, Uruguay; 
  • A private behind-the-scenes tour of the New England Aquarium and then an incredible totally sustainable seafood buffet with paired wines and a marine biologist; 
  • A tour, class and tasting at a world famous chef's organic farm and cookery school in Cork, Ireland; and the list goes on.
  • A tasting of extraordinary Tokaji wines in Budapest, Hungary and Rieslings in Rudesheim, Germany; and the list goes on
Because of the uniqueness of these events, Goldring Travel has to strictly limit the number of guests. So please do not wait.

Prices start at US$9,000 per person including all fees and taxes.*


Call (877) 2GO-LUXURY or +1 732-578-8585 or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Do You Effectively and Efficiently Book a Cruise by Yourself? You Don't!

One of the "hot topics" in the travel industry is how to engage Millennials because you (not me, as I may be pretty tech savvy, but I am not in that age bracket) are so efficient and effective in mining data from all sorts of websites and, as a result, are very independent.

You, in fact, shun those supposed "experts" because you may well know more "facts" than those you might otherwise rely upon.  But are those facts and figures all you need to know in order to have the best travel experience?  As I will explain, the answer is not what you want to hear.

Monograms, one of the operators Goldring Travel uses has a great video as a prelude to this article...and remember when you watch it, you are probably doing something a bit more complicated than spending a few nights in Rome...A lot more!




The other day a very close friend of mine was traveling for training in customer service with an airline.  Having traveled all over the world, the concept of getting on an airplane for a short flight to the training center with other customer service candidates seemed rather mundane to her.  But what she experienced was something entirely mind-blowing:  These customer service candidates began fighting over who should be in Row 10 and if Seat D was a window or aisle seat.  And then it hit me...No wonder customer service is so often so bad!

The Customer Service agents really had no (or little) first hand personal experience dealing with issues that might seem minor on the outside, but can be very upsetting to a traveler.  There is quite a bit that can be learned in a classroom, or online, but there is nothing that can prepare you for real world issues than, well, the real world.

Heck, Row 10 may have no window.  Being seated in a window or middle seat when you want to get up a few times during a cross-country flight (or, heaven-forbid, you get a bit claustrophobic) can make a difference.  And, yes, for some people it doesn't make a difference, but for others it does...and there is no way you can tell them it isn't important.  (I admit I really like sitting on the aisle and not doing so can stress me out...especially on long flights.)

And that got me thinking about all the YouTube videos on "How to..."  So I took a look at what was available.  Let's just say there isn't a whole lot of "How to's" there and the ones that are truly sparse with information...regardless of whether that information is correct or not.

And that got me thinking about forums such as Cruise Critic or TripAdvisor...which, for those of you who know me know, are two of my least favorite "resources".  Why?  Because the information is, honestly, wrong more than it is right; especially on the luxury cruise lines.  There are people that pose as authorities, but post things that are just wrong...or are based upon their once every year or two cruise...or are focused on their own personal preferences.  I mean, how can a person who has a totally different life experience from you (and is focused on their life experience) that has a once a year vacation give good, reliable, and timely advise about a cruise line, a ship, a location, a category of stateroom or suite, dining experiences, ports, logistics, etc?

Simply put:  If someone write a review that a restaurant is the best he ever dined at, but his idea of dining is the endless pasta bowl at Olive Garden, is his five stars meaningful to you?  If they say the food on Carnival was wonderful, would you conclude that it can't be much better on Seabourn?

Goldring Travel (that's me!) has been there and done that...and continues to do it again and again, differently each time.  Interested in a luxury cruise?  You can read how Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas are each all the best and award winning.  Can you really determine the differences?  The different styles, cuisine, staffing, suites, etc.?  Would you even think to consider where each ship docks which can be different even if the same port is visited?  Does a butler really make a difference?  What is really included? How does a particular ship handle the number of guests onboard.  (Alas, it is not only about the number of guests!)

Goldring Travel can, not looking at a computer screen, give you first hand knowledge.  And my only goal is to have you come back to me time and time again...and to have your friends and family come to me as well.  So, no...when a cruise line is running a promotion to get me to book a certain cruise I don't do it if it is not the right cruise for you. I want to exceed your expectations.  (Try doing that by yourself!)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  You believe that with enough time and research (and you do love to research things...though you may not have all that time) you can make a great decision.  To which I say, "You are right.  You 'may' make a great decision.  But you probably could have made an even better one working with a truly experienced and reputable travel agent.  And you probably could have booked that cruise at a lower price and/or with some added amenities like onboard credits or complimentary shore excursions."

One final thing to think of.  Let's say you are stuck in Buffalo, New York in a massive snowstorm with seven feet of snow keeping the airport closed for days and it looks like you are going to miss your flight, your cruise, your hotel and a lot of money...What are you going to do?

Stand on line?
Sit on the phone?
Stare at your computer waiting for a chat session that won't answer your personal needs?
Fight with your significant other?

I know!  You are going to call or email your travel agent who booked you that cruise and made sure you had the right travel insurance who will work to get you out of Buffalo and on that cruise (or another one) with little to no money out of your pocket...without the frustration and time commitment.

So I ask you again, "How Do You Effectively and Efficient Book a Cruise By Yourself?"  You call (877) 2GO- LUXURY or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why You Should Book the Seabourn Spirit or Seabourn Legend Before They Leave the Fleet (With Goldring Travel...Of Course!)

In just a few months the Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend will be no more.  While the hardware will, like their older sister, the Seabourn Pride, will pass to Windstar Cruises, the essence of Seabourn will leave them forever.


But before I get to that, I want to address an issue that some people have obsessed over to the point of, let's just say, "concern".  When the Spirit and Legend leave the Seabourn fleet, the world will not come to an end, luxury cruising will continue to exist (and even get better) and many, if not most, of those guests who swore they would never sail on the larger Seabourn ships either love them even more than the smaller ships or are happily satisfied with the alternative.

Most of those few grumbling folks don't even know that Seabourn started out with even smaller ships...which now sail as SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream I and II...and that move allowed Seabourn to offer more:  Like spacious suites, marble bathrooms, alternative dining, multiple lounges and more.  The move from 100 to 208 didn't destroy Seabourn's luxury or elegance, it enhanced it and actually made Seabourn more popular and able to meet even more of the demands and desires of the increasing number of luxury cruise travelers.

A case in point is the recent Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Sojourn.  Now while it cannot compare to the Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruises (with such exclusive events as a private tour and tasting at Chateau Margaux, a Tokaji wine tasting in Budapest including a $750 bottle of the finest Tokaji or a tasting of fresh branzino pulled right from the Adriatic Sea Slovenia or the onboard tastings such as 11 paired courses prepared ala minute), what it can do is provide some pretty outstanding experiences for the lucky 450 guests.

As one of my clients wrote to me:

Cruise was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.   All new food menus.   Wine was unbelievable.

So much to tell you.  Seabourn, what took you so long!!!   Themed cruise was determined an undisputed success within the first 24 hours.  More planned for 2015.
  

Tony Egger, consulting chef, says hello to his good friend Eric!

OK, now back to the Seabourn Spirit and Legend!  These are special ships because they were for many years the heart and soul of Seabourn.  It was, alas, from these ships that many of Seabourn's trademark events arose.  (Did you know that Seabourn invented, and still has, Movies Under The Stars? Yep, it wasn't Princess Cruises...and Seabourn's is a bit more elegant!)

I love these smaller ships and they were the ships that got me off to a successful travel agency business.  There is an intimacy that is fantastic.  And the ship's short-comings like a pool that is too small and tucked in a corner and the lack of true balconies are easily over-shadowed by the incredible service and cuisine (by the same staff that are on the larger Seabourn ships...so not to worry).  

A client recently returned from the Seabourn Spirit and wrote:

I have been remiss in contacting you since we got home from our Spirit adventures-since I have had to return to doing our cooking, housekeeping and other "chores" that were done for us in our 21 days of "Heaven" on Spirit.

I will sum up our trip in three words: FABULOUS, FABULOUS and FABULOUS.  We loved cruising the Adriatic, which was so clear and clean, and discovering Croatia and all it has to offer.  We took two Seabourn tours-a visit to Magna Grecia Farms outside of Katakolon Greece and Truffle Hunting out of Rovinj-both were wonderful. 

The Spirit Team was professional, gracious and classy-they do have great employees.  Our weather was fantastic-only 1/2 day of rain in three weeks.  Met lots of people from all over the world and had interesting conversations. 

I can't thank you enough for turning us on to Seabourn.  We have been spoiled for life and look forward to future travels on the "bigger sisters"-all booked through Goldring Travel of course!

I could go on and on with wonderful details of our trip/cruise-the memories will not quickly fade.  Thanks again for all you do-and you do it so well!

I encourage you to get away from the cold of winter and head down to the Caribbean for a week or two on one of the two smaller Seabourn ships before they leave the fleet.  With prices starting at $2,199 + tax per person (and, if you have never sailed on Seabourn Goldring Travel will give you at least a $400 per suite discount right off the top!), you have everything to gain and - as my client's say - nothing to lose!

Give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or email me eric@goldringtravel.com ,