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 saut├ęs 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.
Reply With Quote








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.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend Are Staying With Seabourn

Ed. Note: The Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend were sold three months after this article was written (February 2013) to Windstar Cruises, but are staying with the fleet until 2015 (the Pride until 2014). You can read the article here.

I have been a bit quiet of late having endured the wrath of Hurricane Sandy and the November Blizzard, but Goldring Travel is back in full operation.

While I know I still owe a couple of articles on the 2012 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Pride, I did want to address some inaccurate information posted on Cruise Critic (can you believe it? LOL) about the Seabourn triplets:  The Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend.


The Seabourn Triplets are going nowhere.  They are staying with Seabourn for the foreseeable future.

How do I know this?  Well, let's just say that I recently had some very interesting discussions about possible renovations to the ships and also the reason for the long delay in the release of the Seabourn 2013-14 Cruise Brochure.

Trust me...and I think I have earned that (especially compared to the history of misinformation posted on Cruise Critic).  There are serious discussions about how to renovate the triplets and the best use of them.  And those discussions also included the rumors and the practicality of not selling the ships.

Practicality of not selling the ships, you say?  Why, yes I do. 

First, a cruise line could never economically build similar ships again.  It is just too expensive based upon the return you could expect.  That is why cruise lines (Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania, etc.) have all gone to larger new-build ships.  There is no need to go through the economics of it because that has been done before.  But let's emphasize that once the "yachts" are gone, they are gone forever.  And Seabourn would want to give up these irreplaceable ships because why????

And that brings us to the second point:  Competition.  The triplets are unique and, knowing they cannot be economically replicated...and they do have a loyal following and cruising abilities (more on that in a minute)...why would Seabourn want to sell these ships to its competition?  SeaDream Yacht Club has two of the even older and smallest former Seabourn ships (the former Sea Godess I and II built in 1984 and 1985).  Assuming SeaDream could even afford them (I'm not so sure about that!), what would probably occur is a shift in the same passenger base...so why give those passengers to SeaDream?  What other cruise line might want them?  Possibly one could be sold to Orion Expeditions, but then it would have a ship with double the capacity it presently operates creating all sorts of issues for its remote, eco-friendly, expeditions.  But that would be but one...and potentially create unneeded confusion in the marketplace.

Do you know how much it costs to obtain a customer vs. retaining a customer?  For Seabourn to send away its triplet-loyal and more exotic itinerary customers and then have to try and win them back to sail in a different class of ship would be an economic travesty.  By the way: Seabourn's ship with the highest Customer Satisfaction ratings is the Seabourn Legend.

Third, operationally Seabourn owns the ships outright so they are not as expensive to own as a new-build or newly purchased ship.  As long as they are profitable refitting them - and there already has been some substantial refitting below decks - makes great economic sense.  While some like to say they are a bit "long in the tooth", the fact is that they don't build them like the triplets are built.  There is lots more steel and structure in them than the new ships...so they last.  Now, while it is true they could use some upgrading, that would not change if they were sold...and it would, in fact, be a bigger expensive for any acquiring cruise line.  (For example, SeaDream would have the burden of paying for them, and not only refitting them, but shaping them to its product, remarketing them, etc.)

I digress to make a point on the triplets' age:  I am tired of hearing how the ships are showing their age.  Perspective:  I can - and do - walk on brand new cruise ships and see many defects, deficiencies and design flaws.  (Remember my complaints about the Silversea Silver Spirit with poorly designed suites and public spaces with poor accessibility and a lack of bathrooms?)  The lines of Seabourn Pride (which I just spent 14 days on) are some of the most beautiful at sea.  Does the varnish/teak work need some TLC?  Yes.  Does there need to be a bit more care in painting so that the finish is more yacht-like?  Yes.  Would new beds/suite furniture, shower heads and a better entertainment center/television be great?  Yes.  A nicer Veranda for casual dining?  Sure.  OK, what else do you have esthetically?  Not much really.

Fourth, one of the hallmarks of Seabourn is its ability to visit ports that other ships simply cannot.  The sale of the triplets would decsimate this valuable moniker. Oh yes, there are other small ship cruise lines, but they cannot do what Seabourn does. For example, SeaDream's ships are designed so that they cannot sail longer or exotic itineraries and Windstar is limited by its mast heights, depth and speed.  Compare the diversity of the 2013-14 itineraries for the Seabourn triplets versus any other cruise line and you will see what I mean.  (That does not mean other cruise lines don't have some great itineraries.  They do...and some are better than Seabourn's itineraries for the Odyssey-class ships.)

Fifth, why would Seabourn want to limit itself? It makes no sensewhile the present Seabourn management eliminated "The Yachts of" Seabourn, the fact is that the triplets really do give you more of a yacht than a cruise ship experience.  I, for one, am all in favor of Seabourn marketing the triplets as "The Yachts of Seabourn" and the larger Odyssey-class ships as "Seabourn"...related, but different.  (I actually mentioned this to Pam Conover when the marketing for the Odyssey was first discussed.)  There is a danger in offering only one flavor of ice cream and the cruise lines are very aware of this.  Pick any other major cruise line and look at their stable of ships.  Not one has only one class of ship.  Not Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Crystal, Oceania, Celebrity, etc.  .

So now, the 2013-14 Brochure delay.  That was hugely frustrating for me and most every travel agent...and many Seabourn guests.  The reason was - other than it just seems that the present Seabourn management takes longer than any other cruise line to get some things done - is that Seabourn wanted to include its new Antarctica sailings in the brochure.  Other than hearing it from the top, I know that the 2013 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise is on November 13, 2013 on the Seabourn Quest (Rio to Buenos Aires...if you might be interested!)...and then there was nothing.  The Seabourn Quest has no further sailings so initially I could not market "my" cruise with any extension or back-to-back option.  (I know now the reason was that Seabourn had yet to finalize its commitment to Antarctica.)

But...and this to me is a big "but" for all those making up stories:  The triplets had their itineraries published online long ago!  (It must mean that those pontificating the wrong information on Cruise Critic don't look at Seabourn's website!)

So with all that said, I think there should be some finality in the status of the Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend.  At least as final as things can be in the world of the cruise business.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and Loyal, Concerned, Clients - Thank You...And Charity.

Goldring Travel's office, as well as my home, is located in Colts Neck, New Jersey which was hit quite hard by Hurricane Sandy.

With no power (save a small generator at home), no water (we have well water), no heat and very limited mobile phone service for over a week, things were a bit taxing and frustrating...after the shock of the enormity of the storm began to wear off.

But with all of that, the dozens of emails, calls and Skype messages I received from friends and clients from all over the world was (and remain) very uplifting.  More than anything it let me know that my caring for everyone's vacations...taking it personally, if you will...really does matter.  And, to be sure, it has given me a bit of boost to do things even better.

Now, to keep things in perspective, my family has been very lucky.  A week of some inconvenience pales in comparison to what is going on around us.  Devastation occurred a literal 20 minutes down the road in my old homestowns of Sea Bright and Atlantic Highlands, and in Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Belmar, Seaside Heights, etc. 



It really touches just about everyone around here in some fashion:
  • A man I know from a friend's NASCAR parties recently retired and started up a small landscaping business.  As he cut up and removed a 35 foot tree from my front yard he mentioned that he just rented his dream home, a small house right on the water in Manasquan.  He was able to save his important papers, but now has no clothes and no home.
  • I ran into a friend of mine at the local fire house (where we could take a hot shower).  He not only didn't have a generator, but his elderly father-in-law's home in Point Pleasant Beach was destroyed and was living with him and his family in a dark, cold, home.
  • A friend and client's restaurant still has 10 feet of water in the basement and everything is ruined.
  • A friend and client has worked tirelessly to rebuild Asbury Park with an enthusiasm that is contagious and now sees so much of his efforts literally washed away.  (I don't know the status of his apartment yet.)
As Goldring Travel is back up and running, I hear from some folks that they feel a bit guilty planning or paying for their vacation.  Don't! 

Life goes on.  And as one who has lived his life with sand in my shoes, I know that with all of the joy that comes with living on the shore, so do the risks.  And the term "Salty Dog" doesn't mean that they those who chose to live there are soft, but rather they are resilient and tough, people.

However, right about now those Salty Dogs (and those that thought they were) could use some help to get themselves back on their feet.  So if you feel the desire, need or guilt to donate money (there is enough food and clothing for now and lending a helping hand isn't an option for most), pick a worthwhile charity of your choice that assists the affected communities. 

How much to donate?  I leave that to you. 

But as a bit of encouragement to do so, any client of Goldring Travel (old, present or new) send Goldring Travel a confirmation of your donation and Goldring Travel will match it...up to $100 per family.

Once again:  THANK YOU!