Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why You Should Book Your Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, AmaWaterways, Celebrity...Oh You Get The Idea...Cruise with Goldring Travel

 
I know my blog is read as a resource probably more than it is read to find the latest and greatest "sale". 

While that is, in part, because I believe the experience is more important that buying what you don't really want because it is allegedly is "On Sale", the main reason is that I love the travel business and don't focus on "selling to", but rather the "servicing of", my clients.

However, sometimes I feel I need to remind readers of my blog and Facebook page that I actually am a travel agent and make a living selling holidays and that I just don't talk about them.  In fact, I always think about what I can do to make my client's vacations better...even when (and you can ask my family about this) I am on vacation.

Rather than tell you all that I will do for you in the way of great pricing, great service and focusing on your desires and developing a long term relationship (things that I would hope you would insist upon when choosing your travel agent), I thought I would just give you a couple of recent (and I mean like in the past week) testimonials from two of my clients:

A guest on the 2012 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Pride posted on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum:

I have to say that Eric’s add-ons made an outstanding cruise a memorable and much more special experience.

Those of you who have followed my banter with Eric on this board must know how hard it is for me to acknowledge Eric’s significant contribution. I must momentarily step out of my role in trying to contain Eric’s rather large ego, a mission totally supported by Eric’s lovely wife, and acknowledge that his additions were fantastic, exceeding my expectations.

I have always suspected that Eric might be a tad prone to exaggeration. Having read his blog about the cruise, I think he might have even understated it. All the Goldring events were very special, and I say this in spite of the fact that I am the guest he tried to embarrass by asking me to fillet a huge fish at Chef Kurt’s private event.

We will relive & enjoy these experiences until senility finally takes full hold. (At the present rate, that won’t be long.) I’m sure Eric would appreciate me saying that his add-ons made this cruise a real travel experience.

And a repeating 2011 and 2013 Seabourn Full World Cruise Client wrote to me:

Good morning, Eric.

There was a most intriguing giant white package waiting on our porch when I got home yesterday. It was from you , of course. -- what a treasure trove! We thank you so much for the beautiful fleece jackets, backpacks, cool flashlights and ---lest we forget-- our cruise documents!

With you in our corner we're always confident that problems will be solved, expectations met, and sea conditions will follow your instructions.

Now, should you think that Goldring Travel's special handling is limited to only my clients that take high profile cruises, a client of mine just returned from a 12 day Caribbean Cruise on the Seabourn Quest in a Category V2 suite (and who even declined a Preferred Limited Upgrade to a V6 suite for $549 pp) messaging me on Facebook:

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale this A.M. after a perfect cruise. How could it be anything else??? It was Seabourn, after all. We did have a question though. How do they determine who gets invitations to dine with the shipboard Glitterati? We received 4!!! Accepted all 4 and had some wonderful times. There were, however people who never received 1. Just wondering how we came to be so honored.
Before, during or after your holiday, Goldring Travel is there for you doing everything possible to assure you have the best experiences possible.

Interested?  How about considering the 2013 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise, the 2013 Silversea Silver Expedition Panama Canal Cruise or the 2014 AmaWaterways Vienna to Istanbul River Cruise?  Please email me at eric@goldringtravel.com or telephone at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or in the UK: 020 8133 3450 or Australia: (07) 3102 4685 or elsewhere internationally: +1 732 578 8585.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cruise to Antarctica - Seabourn Style

Goldring Travel specializes in selling luxury travel experiences.  A cruise to Antarctica with landings ashore with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable naturalists and lecturers in the world...and then returning to your luxury ship to enjoy a champagne and caviar toast to each day's experiences upon return to your suite is about as life-fulfilling a luxury travel experience as you can have!



Seabourn's Holiday Antarctic Voyage Itinerary

There will be a total of four Antarctic cruises of 21 or 24 days - the first departing November 20, 2013...right after the 2013 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise (what I a perfect way to start off!), December 11, 2013 (the Holiday sailing), January 4, 2014 and January 25, 2014.  I have already booked some clients on the 2013 Christmas-New Years Holiday sailing and the more the details become available the more excited I get. 

So let's get to the details!

On Monday I had a great conversation with John Delaney, Seabourn's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and have some details to share with you...as you get ready to call Goldring Travel to book this magnificent experience aboard the Seabourn Quest.

During the Seabourn Quest's upcoming scheduled drydocking a couple of exciting things are going to happen:  Her hull is going to be strengthened so that she will be ice-classed and she is having Spa Penthouse Suites installed and incorporated into the Spa area (with great views overlooking the ship's wash...talk about a fantastic vantage point for these cruises!).  Remember this a both an adventure and luxury experience!



Your first two questions are:

  • Are there going to be landings and where...or are we just going to sail around like most cruises? You are going to experience five (5) days of zodiac landings and expeditions as you visit the areas surrounding King George Island, Gerlache Strait, Paradise Bay, Lemaire Channel, Hope Bay and Elephant Island among others.  Where specifically will you have your landings?  Where the real-time reports of wildlife, weather and sea conditions dictate.

  • Do I have to purchase any special gear?  No.  When you board this cruise you receive a really cool Seabourn Expedition Parka designed so that you can also use it when you return home and to impress your friends.  You will also receive a backpack specially made for your cruise (I think Seabourn took my idea, as I have long given backpacks - and other goodies - to many of my clients as gifts.)  Oh, and there won't be a need to schlep boots as Seabourn will be providing them to use during your cruise (and you get to leave them behind!). If you book your Seabourn Antarctic cruise with Goldring Travel (with its great pricing) you will also receive a high quality Canon or Nikon digital SLR camera with telephoto lens with our compliments!
And then you probably will ask:

  • Is it something safe and comfortable for me to do?  While there are going to be some exciting experiences, Seabourn is well attuned to the safety and comfort of its guests, so there are going to be a number of opportunities based upon physical ability and interests.  This starts with Captain Bjarne Larsen, who with his staff, have years of experience cruising the waters of the Antarctic and Expedition Leader, Robin West, who has participated in 40 prior Antarctic voyages (including a superyacht expedition) and Assistant Expedition Leader, Jara Versloot-West, an expert on all types of expedition cruising and (not surprisingly) also has 40 prior Antarctic journeys.

  • Is this cruise just for Whale Watchers and Penguin Lovers?  I have studied the Antarctic for years and while the scenery and wildlife is spectacular, the law, politics and history of this most remote place on earth is equally fascinating.  Seabourn has put together quite an ensemble of lecturers and naturalists who will give lectures and have conversations around the ship on everything from paleontology to the legal issues concerning oil spills to politics and how it effects everything from scientific work to exploitation of the Antarctic's resources.  When you experience this region you will most certainly better appreciate the issues!

  • OK, Goldring Travel is giving me this fancy-smancy camera and I don't know what "SLR" or "telephoto" even means!  Now what?  Seabourn has you covered (like I didn't know that!).  There will be two (2) digital photography coaches onboard the Seabourn Quest for each sailing including on the first two sailings Wolfgang Kaehler (lecturer, author, safari leader and BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Composition and Form for his "Penguins on Ice") and Daniel Cox (Two cover stories for National Geographic and author if 19 books) and on the second two sailings Pat and Rosemarie Keough (winners of the World Best Photography Book and 2012 Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal).
Remember, this cruise also has an in depth exploration of the Chilean Coast as well as port calls in such places as Ushuai and Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

Now why should you use Goldring Travel to book this extraordinary experience?  Other than great pricing and a great camera, one of my clients who is about to depart on the Seabourn Quest's 2013 World Cruise just wrote me this morning and said it best:

Good morning, Eric. 
 
There was a most intriguing giant white package waiting on our porch when I got home yesterday.  It was from you , of course. -- what a treasure trove!  We thank you so much for the beautiful fleece jackets, backpacks, cool flashlights and ---lest we forget-- our cruise documents! 

With you in our corner we're always confident that problems will be solved, expectations met, and sea conditions will follow your instructions.

Yes, you also get great service!

Prices starting at US$14,999 (+ $608.88 in taxes).  For more information or to book your Antarctic Experience contact Goldring Travel today! 

Please email me at eric@goldringtravel.com or telephone at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or in the UK: 020 8133 3450 or Australia: (07) 3102 4685 or elsewhere internationally: +1 732 578 8585.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oceania Cruises - A Little Less Consumer Friendly. Why? And What's The Good News?

Oceania Cruises is doing some things to make its cruises just a bit less consumer friendly, just a bit more expensive, and, to be honest, a little concerning.  While I still have happy clients that cruise on Oceania, the key to that happiness is knowing what to expect... and these changes are, to be sure, unexpected and neither will make you happy.


First the less important (significant) change:  It was only a few months ago that Oceania started its beverage package programs where you can purchase, for example, spirits, wine and beer throughout the ship.  Oceania has just announced that its packages are already going up in price.  Now, I am not sure if that is related to people drinking more than expected or trying to tweak it so that those people who were on the cusp, decide not to take the package...and then are charged more by the end of their cruise.  Then again, it just might be so popular that Oceania figures it can make $2,000,000+ over a year across its fleet with the price increase.  While it is curious to me, it is something you just need to be aware of. 

That said, while Oceania claims its beverage package is "one of the reasons Oceania is such a great value", that value just got $5.00 per day more expensive; making it just a bit lesser of a value, right?  Regardless, it should not be a major factor in whether to take an Oceania cruise.

The second change is actually two changes that effect each other.  And those changes just might be a bit more important when planning your cruise vacation - or even if you select Oceania for your cruise holiday.  Change OneOceania is redefining a "long cruise" from being 20 days or more to only 15 days or more.  Why?  Because Oceania has always had a longer penalty period for "long cruises".

Change Two:  Oceania has always started its penalty period for "long cruises" (when cancellation fees apply) as being 150 days rather than the standard 90 days. But now Oceania is extending is penalty period out to 180 days on long cruises.  What that means is if you change your mind, become ill or whatever, Oceania is going to hit you with a penalty six (6) months before your cruise was to set sail...and that is not, to my mind, fair or reasonable.

This tells me two things: 
  • Oceania is having issues with passengers booking longer cruises and then cancelling them just before final payments are due.  While the question, "Why?", is interesting (and relevant), the fact is that this phenomenon leaves Oceania with inventory to sell with relatively little time to sell it.  When this is coupled with its "no discounting" policy, there is little in the way of marketing to fill those empty berths.  (Yes, Oceania does have a very aggressive program of offering highly discounted prices to passengers booked on the cruise before or after the sailing, but not for those just desiring that sailing.  Curious, but it is what it is.)

  • Oceania wants and needs your money earlier.  When the penalty period starts 6 months before your cruise, it means your money is out of your pocket months earlier...so Oceania gets to use your money while you wait half a year for your cruise.  Oh, and don't think your travel agent is getting his/her commission earlier, because Oceania took care of that a months ago when it delayed the payment of commissions until only a couple of weeks before your cruise departs.
I do not want to be the purveyor of "gloom and doom", but these changes along with some of its earlier "policy" changes, the delay of the drydocking/refurbishment of the Nautica, and its sister company, Regent Seven Seas Cruises', rather poor financial performance leads me to have some fairly significant concerns that Oceania Cruises may be going the way of Renaissance Cruises; a prior Frank Del Rio venture.

Now, what is the good news?  Is there any?  Why Yes!  Yes there is!!  Despite my longer term concerns, Oceania now provides a very good cruise experience and it has some excellent itineraries.  And (you would know this if you really read this article!) there is availability on some pretty great close-in sailings including this winter in the South Pacific

With a wonderful onboard product (even if it costs your $5.00 more a day for your drinks! LOL!) and those longer penalty periods of no relevance, you can take advantage of the situation and get yourself on a great Oceania Cruise today and be on the high seas this winter.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

AmaWaterways Vienna to Istanbul River Cruise Hosted By Goldring Travel - May 2, 2014


Goldring Travel is hosting a fantastic fifteen (15) day River Cruise from Vienna, Austria to Istanbul, Turkey on AmaWaterways’ newest ship, the AmaCerto, on May 2, 2014.  This is a wonderful combination of land and river cruise travel on what I believe is the best river cruise company around. Yes, it is over a year away, but river cruising is hot-hot-hot and this cruise will sell out quickly…very quickly. 
 
First, some preliminary things to think about independent of this unique and very interesting itinerary since most people have never taken a river cruise.  And, yes, I have experienced AmaWaterways just this past August-September 2012 traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia.  It was honestly one of my best travel experiences and the onboard service and cuisine truly exceeded my expectations:

1.      When I speak to people the first thing I hear is they don’t want to be on a ship filled with old people visiting lots of churches.  This tour and cruise has little to do with either.  This can be quite an active trip if you desire and focuses more on the history (and wines!) of this fascinating area…and, besides, AmaWaterways offers three styles of tours, “Gentle Walkers”, “Active Walkers” and “Late Starters”.  Bicycling tours and private use are offered in a number of cities, as well as “Culinary Delights – Bites & Sights” excursions.

2.      I also hear that river cruise ship cabins are cramped and have rigid dining.  Again, on this ship that is anything but the case.  The AmaCerto has very comfortable cabins with “Twin Balconies” at 235 and 210 sq. ft. and French Balcony Staterooms at 170 sq. ft. and offers an array of dining options besides the main dining room:  The Chef's Table restaurant with its own private chef, two "Wine Bar" venues, plus a casual al fresco bistro. On select days, guests can enjoy a lunch outdoors on the Sun Deck.

Category BB Cabin with Twin Balconies

3.      There are no fears of being charged for all sorts of extras.  On AmaWaterways there is complimentary internet throughout the ship, a state-of-the-art Infotainment system, free-flowing regional wines with open-seating dinner (beer and soft drinks too) and complimentary specialty coffees, teas and bottled water 24 hours a day.  Breakfasts and lunches are truly diverse and plentiful buffets with made-to-order specials every day.  Also, most tours are complimentary, as are bicycles.

 

4.      No worries about not understanding your guides! All AmaWaterway’s guides are truly fluent in in English and know the information you want to make each day an enriching experience.
 
5.  There is plenty to do onboard.  In addition to the complimentary internet and Infotainment system, special highlights on this cruise including lectures, cooking demonstration, onboard music performances and piano music

So let’s get to the details!  (And you are able to do this as a "cruise only" itinerary if you wish)

Day 1 DEPART FOR VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Day 2 ARRIVE IN VIENNA - Arrive in Vienna and check-in to the InterContinental Hotel (or similar). The remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Day 3 VIENNA- This morning, your city tour takes you around the Burgring, the circular road around Vienna’s historic center. You will also take a walking tour through Vienna’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Highlights of your tour will include the Vienna Opera House, the Ringstrasse, and the awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or join an optional tour to the Imperial Schonbrunn Palace. Tonight, explore the vibrant Austrian capital on your own or attend an optional Mozart and Strauss concert. (B)

Day 4 VIENNA - BUDAPEST – EMBARKATION - Bid farewell to Vienna as you check out of the hotel and transfer to Budapest, where you will have free time for lunch followed by a sightseeing tour of Buda and Pest. From historic Buda Castle, enjoy a splendid view of the twin cities spread over both banks of the River. Your tour also features a visit to the Fisherman’s Bastion. Afterwards, board your ship which is docked in the city center. This evening, meet your fellow passengers at the Welcome Dinner. (B,D)

Day 5 MOHACS - PECS – VILANY - Arrive in Mohacs during breakfast and then depart for your excursion to Pecs, the 2010 European Union Cultural Capital. Founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, Pecs became an important early Christian diocese and Turkish cultural base during the many centuries of Ottoman rule. Upon arrival, visit the Mosque Church, the largest structure surviving from the Ottoman period, as well as the underground burial chambers that date back to the 4th century. You will also see St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral, as well as the restored Synagogue, before returning to the ship in Mohacs. After lunch, enjoy a wine-tasting excursion to sample aromatic, spicy wines from the vineyards of Vilany. As an alternative, take a guided bicycle tour to Mohacs in the afternoon (capacity controlled). (B,L,D)

Day 6 VUKOVAR, CROATIA - NOVI SAD, SERBIA - This morning, choose either a “Yugoslav Civil War” tour of Vukovar or wine tasting in the town of Ilok. Your city tour of Vukovar includes the Ovcara Memorial, the monumental cross that is a memorial to those who lost their lives during Croatia’s struggle for independence. As an alternative, travel to the town of Ilok, which is famous for its wines. Here, you will visit a local winery and sample their vintages before your walking tour of the town. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise to Novi Sad, Serbia. Enjoy a walking tour of Novi Sad in the afternoon, beginning at Danube Park, then stroll through the Old Town district. (B,L,D)

Day 7 BELGRADE - Wake up in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and enjoy a panoramic tour of some of the city’s 5,500 streets, 16 plazas and 32 squares. You will also see the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava as part of your tour. As an alternative, take the “Tito’s Memorial” tour, which includes a visit to the House of Flowers, where the tomb of Josip Tito is located. You will also see some of the many gifts Tito received during his presidency. You will have free time in the city center after your tour to stroll along Prince Michael Street, the city’s main pedestrian and shopping area. A guided bicycle tour is available in the afternoon (capacity controlled). (B,L,D)

Day 8 CRUISING THROUGH THE IRON GATES - VIDIN, BULGARIA - Today, enjoy a full day of cruising through one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the Iron Gates. Here the Danube narrows as it winds through a range of magnificent gorges between the southern Carpathian Mountains and the northwestern Balkan Mountains. This natural border between Serbia and Romania will be an unforgettable highlight of your Black Sea adventure. Late this evening, the ship cruises to Vidin. (B,L,D)

Day 9 VIDIN - The Baba Vida Fortress, the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country, stands guard over the Danube at the Bulgarian frontier town of Vidin. The 14th- century castle has massive walls and four imposing towers, a stark contrast to the bucolic park that surrounds the castle. From here, take an excursion to Belogradchik, a beautifully restored 6th- century castle, located in a stunning landscape of unusual rock formations. (B,L,D)

Day 10 GIURGIU - BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - ROUSSE, BULGARIA - Enjoy a full day excursion to Bucharest, the “Paris of the East.” Visit the Open Air Museum, which was dedicated to the traditional architecture of rural Romania. After lunch you will have two options: a visit to the Palace of the Parliament, second only to the Pentagon as the largest building in the world; or a tour of the newly renovated Lipscani district, the historical city center of Bucharest. (B,L,D)

Day 11 ROUSSE – DISEMBARKATION – VELIKO TARNOVO – PLOVDIV, BULGARIA - Disembark the ship in Rousse and continue your tour by motor coach.* Your first stop is the ancient capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, where you will visit Samovodska Charshia, a traditional market. Afterwards, enjoy lunch at a hotel in Veliko Tarnovo, where you will sample a traditional Bulgarian lunch before continuing on to Plovdiv. This evening, see the main highlights of Plovdiv Old Town on a walking tour before dinner at a local restaurant.  You will stay at the Dedeman Hotel (or similar). (B,L,D) *If you prefer to fly from Bucharest to Istanbul, it is a US$399 option.

Day 12 PLOVDIV - ISTANBUL, TURKEY - After breakfast, continue on to exotic Istanbul for the grand three-night conclusion of your Black Sea Voyage. You will stop for lunch in Erdine, and then continue on to Istanbul where you will check into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (or similar). The rest of the evening is free to explore on your own. (B,L)

Day 13 ISTANBUL- A comprehensive city tour will take you through its Old City, with its numerous Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. Admire the mighty defensive walls, the Roman aqueduct and the hippodrome. See the Galata Tower and visit the beautiful and historic Blue Mosque, so named for the blue tiles adorning its interior. This afternoon is free to explore the town on your own or join the optional “Turkish Delight” tour, an in-depth look at some of Istanbul’s most unique sights. (B)

Day 14 ISTANBUL- Today, your guided sightseeing tour will take you to the spectacular Ottoman Sultans’ Grand Palace of Topkapi, home to every Sultan from the 15th-19th century. During your tour, admire the private chambers of the Sultans, the Harem (women’s quarters) and the Imperial Treasury’s vast collection, including the jewel-encrusted Topkapi Dagger and the stunning 86 carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond. This afternoon, enjoy an optional Bosporus cruise to Istanbul’s chic, trendy neighborhood of Ortaköy, or use the remainder of the day to shop for souvenirs or relax at a tea house or café. (B)

Day 15 DEPART ISTANBUL - Prepare for your homeward flight. (B)
Goldring Travel's Special Pricing starts at US$3,200.00 per person (cruise only) and US$4,700 per person (with both pre- and post- cruise extensions) including all taxes. 
All you need do is pay a fully refundable** US$400 per person deposit to secure your space on this fantastic trip of a lifetime. **Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please ask for details.
Please call Goldring Travel with any questions or to book this extraordinary travel experience at (877)2GO-LUXURY in the United States, 020 8133 3450 in the United Kingdom, (07) 3102 4685 in Australia and +1 732 578 8585 Everywhere else. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Goldring Travel Specializes In Australian Clients Looking For A Cruise Travel Agent

Goldring Travel has quite a number of Australian cruise clients.  I can attribute this to a number of factors that have fortuitously come together. 


But before I get into that I want to show why I even had the opportunity to venture into the Australian cruise travel market.  It is very simple...and two bits of correspondence this week pretty much says it all.

On Monday I received an email from a client in Western Australia which said, in part:

Well here is one for you to conjure with Eric!  We went in our local Travel Agency today to see if they had the 2013/14 Seabourn brochure.  To our request the girl said " who is Seabourn I have never heard of them and I have been here 5 years". And that was Flight Centre which is Australia wide.  After [my husband] picked me up off the floor I proceeded to fill her in with praises for Seabourn.  I wonder which century she is in.  No wonder Aussies go to people such as you. They had all the brochures for all the other cruise lines!!

Can you give us a quote for the Quest Athens to Barcelona for October next year?  Just thought we may as well give this some thought to add on to the ones already booked, while we are in the Northern  Hemisphere.  It is such a long haul for us from West Australia.

Thanks.

On Tuesday a client from Queensland posted on Goldring Travel's The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum:

A few years ago, I used to tell Eric how I manage all my bookings for everything, myself, as Aussie TA's are so useless....I suppose I didn't realise at that time that you could use an overseas TA. My experience was just to go to the local Shopping Mall, go into a TA's shop and book whatever......there was always a drama somewhere along the line, so I gave up and did it all myself! Of course with the internet that became very easy to do.
However I finally relented and "hired" Eric. :o

 

Yesterday we just happened to be at the local Shopping Mall, and were heading to the Food Court for lunch, when I spotted a TA Shop......."I'll just pop in there and see if they have any Silver Sea brochures to look at while we have lunch"...... well in I went. The only TA in the shop was serving another customer, so I just gazed across at the "Cruise Brochures"...couldn't really see too much on the other side of the counter with my worn our eye sight, but I could see there weren't too many brochures on the rack.

The TA came over and asked to help me "Do you have any of the Silver Sea brochures?"....her answer "oh what cruiseline does THAT cruise??" my answer...."ummmm Silver Sea". "Oh is that the name of the cruiseline? I have never heard of it! We have everything else here though".....I didn't bother asking if they had Seabourn, Crystal, or Regent etc etc etc......

As I said years ago "Aussie TA's are hopeless........seems they haven't improved eh!! :lol:


These two stories are typical of what I hear on a regular basis.  Heck, I just heard both of them in two days!

So what makes Goldring Travel the best choice for Australians looking for a travel agent to book their cruise (or other) holidays?
  • Knowledge and Experience - Top cruise line executives, industry publications and hundreds of satisfied clients will attest to Eric Goldring's personal knowledge and expertise in the premium and luxury cruise market.  Not only do I know the names of all of the cruise lines, I have sailed or inspected (or both) many ships on most all of the major cruise lines (and some not so major!).  I study the reviews (both professional and client).  I speak with the cruise lines.  And, of course, I sell cruises...lots of them.  (Trust me there are many great options beyond P&O and Princess.  How about a great Australian company:  Orion Expeditions, for example!)
  • Customer Loyalty - Goldring Travel's clients keep coming back and they refer their friends and families to me.  That is not only because I strive to assure my clients go on the cruise (or land holiday) they truly desire rather than merely book the one they first contacted me about.  But more than that, Goldring Travel's business plan and motto is one and the same:  Be Treated By Your Travel Agent As You Will Be Onboard!  And in the luxury market that means with an extremely high level of service...and courtesy.
  • Great Value - If you think that all cruises bookings are created equally you are seriously mistaken.  Any cruise you book directly with a cruise line will - virtually without exception - cost you more than what it will cost if booked through Goldring Travel. Whether it be a discounted price on Seabourn, some very attractive added amenities/onboard credits on Silversea, Crystal or Oceania, etc. many bookings are also accompanied by complimentary high quality shore excursions or onboard credits courtesy of Goldring Travel.
  • No Consultation or Booking Fees - Goldring Travel does not charge you for seeking our advice.  We believe that by providing you with great service and complete and accurate information you will book your cruise (or land holiday) with us.  Why would we charge you for the opportunity to earn your business?  (Ask a travel agency that does charge a fee and you'll be back!)
  • No Cancellation or Change Fees - Goldring Travel never...that is "never"...charges a change or cancellation fee.  While there is nothing I can do about cruise or tour operator penalties and fees, as my goal is to assure you are taking the holiday you truly desire, charging you a fee because you changed your mind or a problem arose simply makes no sense to me.
  • Understanding - Eric Goldring spent five years working and living in Brisbane, Australia.  I have friends in Brisbane that I am still in regular contact with.  In short, I understand "Aussie" and am proud of it!  (And believe me I know how frustrating it is when someone doesn't!)
  • Accountability and Advocacy - Goldring Travel is a non-resident member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, carries US$1,000,000 of insurance coverage and, of course, is immensely proud of its reputation in the industry.  While I will do whatever it reasonably takes to assure your satisfaction not only with our services, but if there is a problem with your cruise (or land holiday) I stand ready, willing and able to assist.  My commitment to you does not end with your final payment!  (Fortunately, by doing my best to assure you are on the best cruise line and cruise for you, personally, this rarely is an issue!)
  • Free Stuff - I love to get free stuff, so I love to give you free stuff. And even though you are a distance from New Jersey don't think for a second you will get less stuff than other clients of mine.  Whether they are high quality jackets, backpacks, totebags or whatever I come up with, you get them along with your complete travel documents.  (Believe it or not some travel agents actually don't even give their clients complete travel documents because they want to save on postage!)
  • Local Telephone Number - While there is nothing I can do about the time difference (though I do start my day early and end it late), Goldring Travel does have a local Brisbane number: (07) 3102 4685.
  • A Lifetime of Travel - I am focused on earning your business for the rest of your life.  I don't consider booking one cruise (or land holiday) as a success, but rather a stepping stone.
OK, so how does Goldring Travel do so many things differently (and, honestly, at greater cost) yet still be successful?  It is because of one simple thing: You! 

You afford me the opportunity to earn your business and I appreciate that every single time I pick up the phone or answer an email.

Please give us a try. You have nothing to lose and, as the two examples above demonstrate, you probably have much to gain!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Goldring Travel Knows Luxury...And Not From Reading About It.

I always look to see what is new in luxury travel.  And, as part of the synergy I see and experience between yachting and the luxury cruise industry, I regularly attend the Monaco Yacht Show.

When you think of taking a luxury cruise or land vacation, know that I am not reading about what luxury is from a computer monitor or a cruise line's marketing materials.  I experience it and compare it.

You may enjoy this just released video of the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show:



So when, for example, Seabourn asserts it has a yacht-like experience know that I actually spend time on true yachts and can honestly make the comparison and let you know that it is, in real terms, true in many aspects.  For example, on September 19, 2012 I attending a private party for but 150 people on the 400 foot Motor Yacht Alexander and then on September 21, 2012 I boarded the 433 foot Seabourn Pride with but 200 people.

And if a cruise line or hotel claims "Six Star Luxury" I know if it is true...and that permits you to know, with confidence, that you will not be disappointed.  That means, for example, that glitz and glamour are not what I look for when making recommendations to you, but rather the things that truly create a luxury experience. 

When I first stayed at the Ca'Sagredo Hotel in Venice, Italy, it was hardly known.  But with its grand rooms, quietly but elegantly showing their age...in a good way, with its location right on the Grand Canal and with picture book views and warm, informal, but exemplary service I knew it was true luxury.  And many clients of mine have now stayed there; all with rave reviews and wonderful experiences...and the hotel has since won many awards.

So whether you are looking for a yacht charter, luxury cruise, or an extraordinary land experience know that Goldring Travel can provide you with the first hand experience and extraordinary service you desire and deserve.

Please email Goldring Travel at eric@goldringtravel.com or telephone at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or in the UK: 020 8133 3450 or Australia: (07) 3102 4685 or elsewhere internationally: +1 732 578 8585.






Friday, November 16, 2012

Goldring Travel's 2012 Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Pride - Part X (The Goldring Travel Food & Wine Tasting)


Our last day on the Seabourn Pride started earlier than I had planned (I forgot to set one clock back one hour), but as I sat al fresco in the Veranda before it opened sipping a cup of coffee I saw one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen rising above incredibly calm waters and blue skies.  It was quiet.  It was personal.  It was a “moment” I felt grateful for.

A beautiful sunset sailing towards Lisbon, Portugal.
 No breakfast today.  Today is not only the Galley Market Lunch, but the famous Goldring Travel Food & Wine Tasting.

After a leisurely morning…a morning where I warn everyone in our group to take it easy at the Galley Market Lunch…the time slows for me because I am nervous as to how the last event is going to come off.Chef Kurt and Sommelier Juan have never done one of these before and I am letting them run with it.  Chef Kurt and Sommelier Juan have checked the menu and pairings with me and I, of course, defer to them, but appreciate their asking my opinion.

At noon the Galley Market Lunch opens. I say I am not going eat anything, but then I see some of the Razor Clams “we” bought shopping with Chef Kurt the day before. OK, maybe a couple of Hard Clams. And then it was there: a Whole Roasted Suckling Pig! Not fair!!!! I had to have some crackling.  OK, some wonderfully fatty pork too. (Just a little bit…right?) Oh, no: Soft Shell Crabs. And, as I am walking out a small piece of crispy fried chicken.  




Will power…Fuggedaboudit. (But I did skip the fantastic dessert table!) 

Two hours to go.  A quick hot tub soak.
One hour to go.  Change and look “host-like”.
It’s time!

It is 3:00 p.m. and the Veranda is closed except for our group.  Chef Kurt has created an amazing and challenging nine course menu…which he is going to cook almost entirely ala minute.  That’s right he going to put on a show…and what a show did he put on. 


But before you think it was all flash and glamour you need to appreciate Chef Kurt. He is a 31 year old whiz kid with boyish good looks, a sparkle in his eye, a smile that starts in the corner of his mouth and an incredibly soft and caring dispositions.  I am not sure there is an ounce of ego in this hardworking chef who has worked himself up from the bottom.  As he cooks for us (and I will get to what he prepared) he tells us of growing up in his grandmother’s kitchen and that even today when he is home that is where he loves to spend his time.  Clearly for Chef Kurt, cooking is personal.  Being a Seabourn Chef is a profession.  He truly appreciates both.

If you have read all of my articles about this Food & Wine Cruise you know that I have made a number of purchases along the way to pair with the local foods:
  • Mead from Falmouth, England
  • Blue Anchor Pub’s Spingo Beer (Special and Medium) from Helston, England
  • 20 Year Old Calvados from Honfleur, France
  • 2009 Carmensac Bordeaux from our Ensemble Experience in Bordeaux, France
  • 2011 Carmensac Clairet from our Ensemble Experience in Bordeaux, France
  • 1.20 Euro Vino Blanco from the butcher in La Coruna, Spain
  • 1.20 Euro Vino Tinto from the butcher in La Coruna, Spain

OK, Sommelier Juan…Do you stuff!  Pair these with Chef Kurt’s menu (but if you need: to add some wines from the Seabourn Pride’s extensive wine list). 

Wait a minute!  Before you get started, Chef Kurt needs some salmon filleted.  One of our guests has boldly professed that after our experience at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland he is now a professional fish filleter.  With a whole salmon presented he deftly approaches with quite a swagger and then is provided gloves to assure cleanliness…and we all burst out laughing as he not only doesn’t have a chance of filleting the fish, he can’t even get the gloves on!


That out of the way, Chef Kurt (who started out in his six years of training working with pastry) started by creating chocolate decorations for his final dish, a dense chocolate cake which needs to set in the refrigerator.  (Juan eventually pairs this with the Blue Anchor’s Spingo  Medium beer; a surprising pairing that works extremely well.  Who knew?)

  
Our first tasting was Homemade Salmon Gravlax
 

And then a Marinated Lobster with a Foam of Lemon


This was followed by a Foie Gras Tourchon

Chef Kurt then prepared a plate of some wonderful cured meats including Serrano ham (from La Coruna, Spain), salami (from Gijon, Spain), pate aux cepes (from St. Jean de Luz, France)




It was then Fresh Squid stuffed with Shrimp Mouse:
Chef Kurt sautés some Hard Clams with olive oil, garlic and just a bit of salt. And then he does the same with the Razor Clams.
Next up was Fresh Black Pudding that we purchased at the market in La Coruna, Spain with Vanilla Sented Apple Puree and Carmelized Apple.  (Sorry there are no presentation photos.  Honestly it was so good I forgot to take a picture of it!)
As we began winding down our spectacular Food & Wine Tasting an elegantly paired plate of Cheese collected during our cruise was presented.

And for the Finale it was where we began:  Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche and Mint Essence.
By the way, the Hotel Manager, Nick Burger, was our "assistant".  I don't know how he always has the energy or the smile, but we were thrilled not only to have him with us today, but for him to be able to share in the event.


While the 2012 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise has come to an end, the 2013 Food & Wine cruise is being planned and is enthusiastically been booked early.  (And I do seriously limit the number of guests so that it is an intimate and high quality event.) 

If you are interested in the November 13, 2013 Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Quest - a 7 day sailing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Buenos Aires, Argentina...with an overnight stay in Montevideo, Uruguay - please email me at eric@goldringtravel.com  or telephone me at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or in the UK: 020 8133 3450 or Australia: (07) 3102 4685 or elsewhere internationally: +1 732 578 8585.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Host Dan of Cruise Critic - Nothing But A "Smarmy" Rumor Monger

There is no doubt in my mind that Host Dan, of Cruise Critic, is a troubled individual that uses his role on Cruise Critic to promote the false agendas that he desires.

While the best way to be banned from Cruise Critic is to attack the integrity of another poster or what they post, the fact is that Host Dan aggressively attacks those that don't kiss his royal (ring)...and promote his rumor mongering.  It doesn't matter if it is those with the most actual knowledge about the Seabourn product such as Granny Lorr, Lord of the Seas or (yours truly) Iamboatman.  If you don't kiss that (ring) you are outta there.

But being banned hasn't stopped me from spreading - heaven forbid - the truth.

So what does Host Dan now do?  He is - albeit feebly - defaming Goldring Travel.

Today Host Dan posted this:

#55
Old Today, 01:26 PM
Host Dan's Avatar
Cruise Critic Host
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: St. Petersburg, Fl USA
Posts: 4,016
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by lincslady View Post
Glad to hear if this so - however, there definitely was an advert. published with picture and description of the three small ships, so someone is causing mischief/made a mistake/whatever. I see from another cruise board that the person who runs it says it is completely false and that the CC members who brought it to attention are - as he is wont to say - misinformed, but it was there in black and white for a while.
Misinformed? It was right out there for all to see! I do believe if the ship Broker basically advertised the 3 ships for sale, and didn't have permission, there would be SB heck to pay. Some of these other "boards" are run by TA's that are in the business of selling SB cruises. Of course they don't want to take any chance passengers won't book.
Host Dan
__________________
hostdan@cruisecritic.com

Last edited by Host Dan; Today at 01:29 PM.
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OK, so why is he defaming Goldring Travel?  It is simple:  It is the only way he can keep his rumor mill in operation(He is still upset by Seabourn's complaints about his walking into The Club one night on a Seabourn cruise and picking a fight with a couple because he demanded the stripper song, "Girls. Girls. Girls" be played while he downed the last of a Louis XIII brandy bottle and then, when he wasn't given the bottle, he went on a tirade.)  Sometimes understanding why someone is so irrational helps explain the insanity! LOL.

More specifically, yesterday I posted an article, "Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend Are Staying With Seabourn" which was based upon first hand discussions I had with the folks that matter and upon my personal analysis of the luxury cruise market (because hearing something from someone is only one source and I like more than one). 

The genesis of the article was, in the short term, a thread on Cruise Critic with a bunch of un- or mis-informed posters running what is nothing more than a rumor mill.  This was started by a rudimentary website Marine Transportation Consultants, apparently related (so the "Associated Company" links says) to Marine Management Group that itself has an empty website,  - with no substance, background and a number of empty pages.

On one particular page (http://www.marine-consultant.com/p523.htm) it - at one time - apparently referenced:

THREE SMALL LUXURY CRUISE SHIPS FOR SALE
PRICE USD 90 MILLION ‘EN BLOC’
INDIVIDUAL SALES POSSIBLE
FULL DETAILS TO NAMED BUYERS
ALL HAVE 200 PASSENGER BERTHS
ALL BUILT LATE 1980’S

Now, that posting no longer exists and, to be sure, there is nothing...absolutely nothing...anywhere else on the internet or in any published brokerage information that these (apparently Seabourn) ships are for sale.  In fact, there is nothing that states this apparently fly-by-night operation (if it actually still is one) is a legitimate ship broker or that the Seabourn ships are listed for sale with any brokerage.

It is, alas, best case someone "fishing" or, possibly, it is a site connected to Host Dan as a vehicle to push his false and rumor-filled agenda! (Oh, don't start that rumor!)  Seriously, let's see what we can find out about this website.  According to WHOIS the site was created on August 4, 2011 and its ownership is hidden. 

Now that we know...and I think it is clear that it is far beyond a reasonable doubt...that the single, now removed, posting from a skeleton website created in a dirty corner of the internet is not reliable information. 

We also know that, if one follows logic rather than Host Dan's defamatory comments, that if Seabourn was actually going to be selling off the triplets Goldring Travel would be doing everything it could to book the cruising public on other ships...because to do otherwise would cause me to have very unhappy clients and a ton more work with the potential to lose a lot of money.  (I mean can you imagine you upset with me if I knowingly booked you on a ship I had good information or even a strong inkling was going to be sold?)

It is time for smarmy Host Dan to issue an apology or, just possibly, I may just sue him.  It seems that may be the only way to get Cruise Critic to publish something other than clear rumors and seemingly intentionally injure a significant number of innocent cruisers.

So, if you are interested in sailing on the Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit or Seabourn Legend call Goldring Travel at (877) 2GO-LUXURY (+1 732-578-8585) or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.  You know you will get the best, most accurate, information...and great pricing along with some of the best service in the business.









Silversea Cruises Is Shaking Things Up: A Number of Good Signs!

There is a lot happening at Silversea Cruises. 


For me it shows that there is a real commitment to this luxury line that had been slipping for a few years.  The commitment is in two critical areas:  Business Model and Financial.  I think these bode well for the cruise line...if it continues with some consistency.

Management Changes

These changes just didn't happen. The owners of Silversea Cruises essentially "cleaned house" by ending its relationships with almost the entire upper management team starting in early 2012.

Without going through the list of changes, the clear primary one was the appointment of Ellen Bettridge as President of the Americas along with Steve Odell as President of Europe and Asia Pacific. My initial impression is that Ellen Bettridge and her team have refocused Silversea on the "business" of cruising; not cruising as a business.

What do I mean by the business of cruising? 


Major Change to Pricing Strategy

Silversea has decided - as has Crystal Cruises - to use a similar Consumer Friendly pricing strategy akin to the one that Seabourn has always used. (And, to be sure, exactly the opposite of Regent Seven Seas extraordinarily expensive "package" pricing.) Now...as it should be...you will be offered a Cruise Only fare so that you know exactly what you are getting and can easily compare pricing not only among Silversea cruises, but with other cruise lines' offerings. You can, of course, still add on air, transfers, hotels and pre- or post- land programs as you wish. Silversea's calls it its "Silver Privilege" fares. I am not sure I get the rationale behind the name as it seems a bit confusing, so I will simply call it "fair".

Another things Silversea is now doing is instituting a Fare Guarantee Program - effective right up to the date of sailing (not just final payment) which also a welcome change. Under this program - tied exclusively to the above Silver Privilege fares (not packages) - if you make a written request for an adjustment due to a reduction in the Silver Privilege fare you will receive - at Silversea's discretion - a shipboard credit, suite upgrade, future cruise credit, fare reduction or some other adjustment. There is another caveat: The adjustment will be made based upon the Silver Privilege fare on the date the written request is received. While these two asterisks make the program less than ideal, it is a nice improvement. (Note: If it happens more than 120 days prior to sailing the price change will probably just be made as you still would have the option to cancel for the standard $200 fee and then have the $200 fee applied to the new booking.)

What this does is open up Silversea guests and potential guests to booking their cruise NOW rather than waiting; having been recently "trained" to wait for last minute deals.  As I have been doing with Seabourn throughout, I can now say, "There is no reason to wait to book your cruise.  If the price goes down I can protect you.  And, remember, if you wait not only may that particular suite you want be gone, the category you want to book may be gone.  So you may get a better deal...but on a more expensive cruise - costing you more money - than if you book now."

Trust me.  Booking as early as possible is the best overall strategy.  And, while I do not agree with Silversea's $200 administrative fee if you cancel, it is a very small risk/price to deal with when the upsides can be so significant.

Major Change in Protecting Pricing and Travel Agent Commissions

One of the biggest problems in the cruise industry are "bottom feeders":  Travel agents that provide cut-rate pricing and then leave the clients (you) with little or no support and/or incorrect information.  And, to be honest, there is a small portion of the cruising public that play one travel agent's pricing off another's with a plan to drive down the cruise price artificially...essentially trying to get travel agents to provide excellent service with little or no profit (and, funnily enough, Goldring Travel is in business to make money!)

Silversea, as some other cruise lines, such as Crystal and Oceania, has stepped in to "right the ship", so to speak.  Silversea has required that you pay the full retail price of the cruise; that hasn't changed. But what has changed is that now your travel agent is limited to advertising and promoting the cruise only at the Silversea published prices, but can also include:
  1. Group amenities such as those Goldring Travel provides through its afflillation with Ensemble Travel Group including Ensemble Experience shore excursions and/or Onboard Credits.
  2. Added amenities valued up to 5% of the cruise fare.
While there are many travel agents that charge the full fare and provide no amenities, Goldring Travel provides them on every Silversea cruise...along with some of the best service in the business. 

The second aspect of Silversea's approach is that now those clients who play one travel agency off another.  Now, if the client requests their booking be moved from one travel agency to another (for any reason...so don't come up with a different reason and hope you can get around it!) two simple rules apply:
  1. If the booking is transferred or cancelled and rebooked by another agency within 30 days of the initial booking, the new agency will receive the lowest tier of commission (and that is from where your added amenities are paid from).
  2. If the booking is transferred or cancelled and rebooked more than 30 days from the date of the initial booking or inside the final payment window, the new agency will not receive any commission and the original agency will still receive a commission.
In short, once you book it will not be worth your while to shop around nor will it be in the travel agent's interest to bottom feed.  While I am sure there will be some that will continue this practice...until they are caught...this goes a long way to protect the integrity of pricing (and therefore the Silversea product) and the travel agents that sell Silversea (and provide you with the luxury-focused service you desire.)  
    Major Refurbishment of the Silversea Silver Cloud
You may remember that the Silversea Silver Cloud was supposed to be refitted over a year ago and the plans were delayed due to the obviously lack of a financial commitment.  While she has always been one of the favored Silversea ships even her staunches fans complained that she was getting worn and tired.  Well, that has changed!


She has just emerged from an intensive and extensive three week refit.  The Silver Cloud's suites have all undergone major refurbishment with new beds, bedding, fabrics (curtain and furniture), carpets and veranda furniture.  All bathrooms have undergone major upgrades with new new flooring and marble appointments, as well as new bath/shower combinations or walk-in rainforest showers.  Her public spaces now have more modern color tones with new flooring/carpets, wall treatments, art work and design improvements.  The dining venues have all been upgraded and modernized with extensive renovations to the Pool Bar and The Grill, as well as to Le Champagne and La Terrazza (which was in desperate need of an upgrade to its buffet).


One of the things I have been concerned about is the consistency of the Silversea product.  It is difficult to sell a luxury product when the levels (not just styles) of luxury vary from ship to ship and sailing to sailing.  This long waited for refurbishment shows Silversea is committed to working on that consistency issue.

New Galapagos Expedition Ship

Oh, what to do with the Silver Expedition (formerly Prince Albert II)?  While I am booked on this ship for an October 2013 Panama Canal transit and exploration of the natural wonders of Panama and Costa Rica (which you can read about here) having a one-off type of ship/cruise experience especially with a smaller cruise line is difficult not only to market, but to integrate into the overall Silversea concept.

But now, as I previously reported, Silversea has acquired the Galapagos Explorer II and, after a major refurbishment in September 2013, will become the Silver Galapagos.  The ship will provide two different seven day voyages of the Galapagos Islands; one focusing on the western, southern and eastern islands and the other the northeast, central and southeast islands; making for an outstanding fourteen day voyage.

Included with these cruises are complimentary shore expeditions with certified expedition teams.  As with the other Silversea ships, butler service, all-inclusive shipboard amenities including beverages, wines and spirits, an stocked in-suite bar and gratuities will be also included.

As this product is developed, I will most certainly discuss it more.  But in the meantime know that Silversea has now established a firmer foothold in the luxury expedition market.

 
If you are interested in a Silversea cruise please give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or +1 732-578-8585, email me at eric@goldringtravel.com or Skype me at egoldring.