Friday, April 23, 2010

Sometimes It Just Ain't Fun - Iamboatman Needs a Cruise!

It is 5:00 a.m. and I am sitting in Continental's President's Club at Newark Airport, Terminal C waiting for my flight to Florida to attend to a family matter. 

On Wednesday I was in a very long meeting of the Colts Neck Board of Education (of which I am a Board member) after the school budget was voted down after our new Governor Christie, who continues to wreak havoc with our education system.  (Yes, some aspects are seriously broken, but trying to fix it with a hammer as soon as you take office rather than with some elegance and, dare I say, education is the height of irresponsibility...though a great boost to his ego.)

On Monday I was finalizing what I think may be a very important appellate brief on the constitutional issues concerning how the same New Jersey state government can condemn well over $5,000,000 of private property under the guise of a federal and state funded road project for what is clearly a municipal roadway...and doing so with the trial court saying where the money comes from is "none of your business" as the only issue is how much of the taxpayers' money the property owner get.  (Seriously, millions of dollars for a silly little road while bridges are crumbling and the Governor demands that school budgets statewide be voted down.  And how our tax dollars are used, even if unlawful, is not to be questioned?!  Go figure!)

Add to this the fiasco the Icelandic volcano has wreaked on travel.

Of course there are the normal, everyday, issues.  Oh, yes, those things are, for Iamboatman, "everyday issues"!

But then, after I take those refreshing moments assisting many of you with your cruises and escapes (I am presently working on a very cool food and wine experience in Northern Italy that is fascinating), I think about sitting in the hot tub on the bow of the Seabourn Spirit, dinner with Captain Buer on the Seabourn Odyssey on her first formal night ever, running into the same obnoxious Slovenian musicians at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference last month in Miami that I endured at my otherwise wonderful wine tasting at Santos Winery in Slovenia and, of course, the utter relaxation and appreciation of sitting at the Sky Bar on all of the Seabourn ships sipping an after dinner whisky and smoking a nice Partagas cigar.

It is not the same as taking a cruise...and it makes me want to get onboard a ship sooner than later...But then I remember I am going to be on a cruise in just a few weeks even though it seems an eternity from now.

And, alas, I now remember that life is pretty darn good.  Today will be a good day...and just that much closer to a wonderful cruise on the Seabourn Sojourn.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Cruise Critic Thorn Exposed...And Why You Can't Trust Cruise Critic - Really!

Yesterday I read probably the most refreshing post I have ever read on Cruise Critic and there was nothing the sanitizing and "protect my favorite poster" Host Dan could do about it.  Without overstating it, it was a bit of nirvana and catharsis at the same time. 

It said what I have been saying for years (and why, in part, I stopped posting on Cruise Critic). You simply cannot rely on the information posted there. Check out my post on the subject from July 2, 2008:  Where Did The "Critic" in Cruise Critic Go?  (I have been writing this blog that long??? Wow!)

While being accused by some, including who I am about to speak of, of having an agenda so I should not be listened to or trusted (not sure what agenda...I could never figure that out), the fact is that tons of great information from me and others has been overwhelmed and obscured by misinformation, clutter and cheerleading.

So with that I feel it important to quote Frank Del Rio, the head of Prestige Cruise Holdings, which effectively owns Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, setting forth his opinion of the most flagrant cheerleader of Regent, the greatest supplier of clutter and the purveyor of the most misinformation:

"TravelCat2 comments
are more often than not,
and more importantly,
not true...".

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oceania Cruises Fined and Silversea Re-Writes Brochures - As I Said, "Free Air" Ain't "Free"

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.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Seabourn Announces Some Incredible Deals for June, July and August 2010 - One Week Sale!

I haven't been writing much because I have been terribly busy and am now trying to take a short break out in beautiful Lake Tahoe, California.  However, I just received word that Seabourn is having a significant One Week Sale for select sailings this summer - April 5th through April 12th.

The sale includes both cruise only and air inclusive pricing and it applicable to all available categories.  Of course, if you choose the air inclusive you also receive transfers.  One unusual aspect of this sale is that the pricing is available with air deviation (arrive early and/or depart later), but then the transfers are not included. (There are 40 Gateway cities to choose from, but some cities may already be sold out for particular sailings.)  The offer is combinable with most other offers and there are even some combination cruises offered.

Another interesting thing:  These fares are only available to residents of the Americas.  (It is about time!)

Below is a short-hand list of cruises with starting air/cruise only fares per person (double occupancy).  Note:  Additional taxes ranging from $26.93 to $606.98 are applicable.

Seabourn Pride - Asian Itineraries
June 3 and June 11 - $5,400/$3,499
June 23, July 29 and August 10   - $5,130/$3,499
July 5 and July 17 - $6,500/$4,999

Seabourn Spirit - Italy, Croatia and Eastern Med
June 26, July 3, July 17, July 24, July 31 and August 14 - $3,550/$2,499
August 7 - $4,750/$3,699

Seabourn Legend - Western Med
July 24, July 31, August 7, August 14, August 21, August 28 - $3,550/$2,499

Seabourn Odyssey - Greece, Turkey and Italy
June 26, July 31, August 7, August 14 and August 21 - $3,950/$2,999

Seabourn Sojourn - Northern Europe
August 8   - $7,100/$5,999
August 22 - $6,400/$5,299

So if you have not made plans, are considering Seabourn but thought it was too expensive, or the value just has you thinking, "Why Not?!", give me a call on my mobile (732-693-8797) or email me at

And if you are a client of mine already booked on one of these cruises...not to worry.  I've got you covered!