Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Your First Cruise: Packing

We are hoping to have a small series of entries that will cover your first cruise.

When it comes to going on your first cruise you can find tons of packing lists on the internet that can get pretty in depth and in some cases just plain weird. Many include duct tape which I can see some purpose in but many involve bringing power strips that I honestly do not see the need for. Most cabins on board cruise ships do have very few power outlets in your cabin. But to be on vacation how many outlets do you really need? You should not be using your phone. That should be powered off and put in the safe. You should not be needing a computer very much. Some sure, but not a lot. Hair drier and curling iron? OK. That works.

Clothing is another issue where people tend to go overboard in their packing for their first cruise. Dinner clothes and day clothes, beachwear and lounge-wear. You will have many different situations and this leads to people over packing. I sure did on my first cruise. In reality you will be in shorts or swimwear while on the ship for men and dresses or shorts or swimwear for women. Only in the evenings will you be in other clothes.

There is also laundry service on board. Some self serve and others are send out only. Either way, you can get by with less than you plan to use. Having lightweight quick drying clothing will also help. Things you can wash out and dry in your cabin sink and bathroom will really help you get by with less as well.

Camera equipment is something I feel is a must have when traveling. I never travel without at least one camera for each of us. Bringing a camera per person will help you have memories from the trip you may not have noticed the first go around as you see pictures through your travel companion's point of view.

A cruise is a perfect place for a video camera. Sail away is always a party worth recording. The ever changing scenes can be magical, especially when you first leave the sight of land. During the voyage depending upon the cruise line you can find events going on that are worth recording from demonstrations to a belly flop contest.

You luggage is also something else to consider when taking your first cruise. Most cabins are on the small side running between 160 and 200 square feet. There will only be rooms to store a couple bags. There should be room under the bed to hide a couple bags and also in the closet to hide a couple more. This space limitation keeps you to an average of two suitcases per person at most with a carry bag. Anything more and you will really feel cramped in by the bags throughout your stay.

Remember the golden rule of packing. It applies for cruising as well. Pack your bags lightly and then remove half of it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Valentine's Day Weekend Cruise

The majority of the posts to this blog will be travel tips and advice. Only rarely will we write about deals and specials for sale.

February 12, 2011 the Norwegian Jewel is heading out of New York City from the piers on the west side. It will be sailing for only Saturday night on a cruise to no where before returning back to New York Sunday morning. This is the Saturday of Valentine's Day Weekend and at a cost of only $369.24 per couple inclusive of taxes this is a great option for your celebration.

If you have never sailed with Norwegian Cruise Lines before this is a great opportunity. You will get a cruise credit from them for this short cruise and will be treated as a past passenger on your next cruise.

Norwegian Jewel entered service in late 2005. She has 15 decks and carries about 2400 passengers, thereby making her a midsized ship sailing from New York City. Although February for one evening will be a rather poor time to experience all of her outdoor activities it will really open you to all that is possible inside the ship.

Come out and sail with us on this one night voyage. See you there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Should You Use a Travel Agent

This is a question many people ask.

A travel agent is providing a service. You are using them for their knowledge and their experience. This can be vital when you are looking to travel somewhere new or try a new method of travel. A good travel agent will be able to help you with questions through their own experience. And if they do not have the experience of that particular trip or destination, the good one will tell you while providing your with answers that they have researched.

A travel agent is paid a commission from the company that the travel product is being purchased from. If you choose to buy the item directly from that supplier, the supplier is simply paying themselves the commission. There is very rarely a difference in price between what you will pay booking through a travel agent and what you will pay booking direct with the travel supplier. This is an important item that many people do not realize. Yes some travel agents charge a booking fee or a service fee. An example of this is the $5 booking fee at Travelocity. But most travel agents do not charge you anything. They are paid by the supplier for selling their product and rarely will you see a difference in pricing.

Only a travel agent who worked and booked your trip can represent you when something goes wrong. This one is huge. Although we would like to help you out if we did not book your travel, there is nothing we can do in representing you in your time of need. We can give you advice but we can not represent you. This means you will most likely be given some quick advice and told to contact the travel agent you used or the supplier directly. An unfortunate but real aspect of the business and another reason to use a travel agent who will work to your best needs.

On the other hand. Once you book with a travel agent, they can and should work for your best interests. Did the price of your cruise just drop entitling you to a refund? A good travel agent will get this reduction for you if you are eligible even though this will reduce the agent's commission earned from the cruise line. Trust me I can attest, the good will earned is worth the slight reduction.

A travel agent will also sometimes have access to suppliers the average consumer will not. This can sometimes lead to a better package or deal on your chosen trip or better scheduling. A good agent will work with you to offer the options that will truly meet your needs.

A good agent is also there to help you know when it is in your best interest to spend a little more. Some people incorrectly take this as being sold something, but an agent with experience in your chosen trip can direct you to the things that will make your trip more appealing. Where a little extra spent will really improve the whole experience.

In short you are using a travel agent because they are a single point of contact with knowledge and experience to help you enjoy your travel experience.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Packing Tips

Today I wanted to discuss some basic packing tips.

Most people seem to over pack when they go away. This can lead to a much harder travel experience because you either have to pay someone to handle your bags or cart them around yourself.

When it comes to packing you first of course need to take into account the needs while away. Obviously if you need many different levels of dress you will end up packing more than can be comfortable. But in general, less is more.

Many of your destinations will also allow cheap and easy shopping options. This usually does not come into play until you're revisiting some place but can always happen. Going to the Caribbean or Hawaii or a casual summer destination can easily lead you to pack a couple day's worth of clothes and then shop for the rest of your needs.

Other options to help you travel light is on the electronics front. Purchase of a IGO power system can help you save wires and space. The system comes with interchangeable power tips to fit most to all of your devices and use the same cord. This will save you quite a bit of space and weight once you have your Kindle, Phone, Travel Phone, Laptop, etc.

Packing light will make everyone feel better on your trip. Almost any where you go, you will be able to buy what ever it is you feel you need and left home. This alone should help you relax and leave more at home.

The golden rule of packing. Pack as lightly as you can and then take half out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcome to Masters Travel and Tours.

We will be using this blog to put out travel information and tips along the way. We will not be blogging about special deals or promotions with rare exceptions here. That information will be found over on Facebook or Twitter about once a week.

We are a home based travel agency who make house calls. We will often come to the client to go over any plans or it can be handled over the phone.

We specialize in Cruises, Walt Disney World, and also Caribbean and Australia/New Zealand trips. We have a lot of experience in personal travel to these places and also in sending clients. There will soon be some client reviews available on Facebook.

Our main agent, Chris, has achieved many levels of training with Princess Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and is currently working on CLIA ACC as well as Norwegian Cruise Lines. This training along with personal on ship experience means we are well suited to answering your questions and helping you with your chosen vacation.

Liz is our Walt Disney World specialist. She has been going to WDW almost every year of her life and has a love for everything Disney that will quickly come through in the answers to your questions regarding a great vacation to the wonderful world of Disney.

We look forward to serving you.

Masters Travel and Tours

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