Thursday, December 30, 2010

Airlines, are they worth it?

 Let's face it, it has gotten very expensive to fly.  American Airlines increased rates by $20 after increasing them by $10 not two weeks ago.  All of the BIG airlines followed suit, only AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest are holding out.  Bag fees, fees for soda and snacks, taxes, airport fees, etc...make transportation the most expensive part of any family vacation. All of this because of the highly volitile fuel prices caused by tightening of the world's oil supply. This will impact leisure travel greatly. Flights, cruises, trains and bus transportation costs will soar. Though we may not like it, fees due to a rise in fuel costs is understandable. BUT what about all the other fees? When did it become ok to charge us of the sodas that were once part of the experience. Why is there a huge charge when we need to change our itinerary? If we are not canceling and still spending the money with them why is there a charge? Yet, when they change our itinerary to something that is inconvenient for us we do not get a credit. We can not complain, because they know they have us hooked. Why do we pay more and get less leg room?

Now Continental Airlines customers can choose FareLock when booking reservations at continental.com and opt for a 72-hour ($5) or a seven-day hold($9). 72 Hour holds were free in the past, and still free with some airlines. Again another fee disguised as something that has been instituted for our own good, but isn't.

Fees are big business for the airlines. The Department of Transportation revealed that Delta Air Lines collected the most fees of any of the U.S. carriers at $1.26 billion so far this year. United/Continental was second with $922 million followed by $784 million collected by American. Even though Southwest does not charge for the first two checked bags, it still collected $22.5 million in fees for third bags and overweight bags.

I guess I am just tired of feeling like we have no choices with airlines. We live in Massachusetts and have chosen to drive to Florida the last three times we have gone. As a family of 5, we actually still save money driving down even with the high price of gas. We don't have to wait in an airport for two hours in each direction. We do not have to be treated like cattle herded into lines and then frisked like criminals. I have no problem with the new rules as I prefer to be safe. I just hate how people get treated. No need for it. I do not have to have a kid kicking the back of my seat, and the front seat in my face because the airline tried to squeeze two extra rows into the plane. I do not have to pay $2 for a .50 cent can of diet coke. My luggage will not go to Peru on vacation for a week and never get compensated. I will not have to rent a mini-van because I have my own.

I am not saying I will never fly, because I know I will, but I do not believe that airlines are the best option at times. Our last three drives to Florida have given us plenty of family time. We have stopped at places we would have never seen and enjoyed the actual trip. Sounds corny but we have some fun family times in those trips up and down the coast. Coming home is not as much fun, but neither is the flight home.

So, what is it you can't stand about flying anymore? What irritates you? What have you had enough of??  Let us know!


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Family fun in Jamaica...

Whether you are at one of Jamaica's beautiful all-inclusive resorts like Beaches, or just cruised in for the day on a Carnival or Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, there is so much to do and see on this island. My family has visited the island twice. The first time we did Dunn's River Falls, which we loved. Make sure you wear some type of water shoes (you can rent them there too), and be careful with cameras as it is slippery in places. You start your climb at the bottom and work your way up, but you may get off the falls and use the walkway at anytime. Your guide will take pictures of your family in places if you ask. We forgot, but your best bet is bringing a cheap waterproof camera. Don't bring valuables you do not want getting wet, or you can rent a locker before getting to the falls. The guides were not rude at all about tips, but it is expected for you to tip them. We gave him $10 for the 5 of us. Everyone should do that at least once. We were there the day the Jamaican track and field runner won the gold in the 100 yard dash and the island stood still as he ran, then burst into an instant party when he crossed the finish line first. The entire island cheered in unison and Jamaican flags waved everywhere you turned.

Situated in the resort town of Ocho Rios in Jamaica’s “Garden Parish” of St. Ann, and only 5 minutes from the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Pier in one direction and a short 5 minute drive to Dunn’s River Falls drive to the west is hottest new destination in Jamaica. The Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain, it boasts over 100 acres of land stretching from the coast road entrance near Dunn’s River Falls to over 700 feet above sea level at the peak of Mystic Mountain. We took the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas tour here, and it was literally a blink of an eye from the cruise ship.

This ride features custom-designed bobsleds celebrating the Jamaican bobsled teams of Olympics past. Just like the guys in the movie. We sped on winding stainless steel rails 3,280-feet (1,000 meters) on gravity-driven ride through lush forest, on our black and yellow bobsleds. The rides takes about 6 minutes including the ride back up the mountain. The staff told us the bobsled track was laid around the natural landscape to minimize the environmental impact. We could control our own speed, allowing for either a leisurely tour through the forest or something a little more interesting. We got more daring each time we went down, since we could buy more rides at a cheaper rate while there. At the end of the ride, the bobsled slides to a graceful stop and is slowly pulled back by cable to the top of the mountain, completing the entire circuit in approximately six minutes. We were told the bobsleds go about 25 mph at top speed. Believe me it feels a lot faster than that. For younger children who may not want to ride alone, two bobsleds can be connected so the parent sits in the front and controls the speed.



Positioned at the park’s entrance, is the Rainforest SkyExplorer a state-of-the-art chairlift that sends guests above the treetops up 700 feet to the top of Mystic Mountain. The descent carries them through the heart of the canopy, giving them firsthand glimpses of the wonders of the tropical seaside rain-forest. Staff told us that the towers for the lift ride were brought in by helicopters to not disturb the ecosystem. You must ride this to ride go to any of the rides here, and to eat at the restaurant. You can also swim in their infinity pool which even has a water slide, while at the top.  My kids really liked it even if it was a simple pool. Do be careful, when we went, the slide was made of metal and was quite hot.  The 30-minute round trip excursion in an open-air chairlift take you through 1.3 miles of the rain-forest canopy. From the top of Mystic Mountain you can see Ochos Rios and the cruise terminal clearly.

We did not ride the Zipline this trip. It seemed very nicely done as we saw people zip through the forest, above our heads, as we rode the bobsleds. The secure Zip Line attraction whisks travelers through the rain-forest canopy, gliding from one platform to another.  The Zip Line tour consists of seven platforms and 6 Zip lines averaging 100 meters in length, with one 10-meter vertical rappel descent and one 25-meter suspension walking bridge.

There is a three in one package which offers: the Rainforest SkyExplorer, Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica, and the popular Zip Line. The SkyExplorer carries guests above the trees to the peak, then both the Bobsled and Zip line sends them speeding through the heart of the forest. If you want to experience all of them this would be the way to go.

My kids really did like Dunn's River Falls, but they loved Mystic Mountain. They played in the pool for over an hour, we ate lunch up there, rode the bobsleds, shopped and looked around for about 4.5 hours. I think that kids ages 6-89 would love this excursion. This 46 year old loved it. We took a shuttle back which were constantly returning to the cruise ship's terminal. We will surely be back to Jamaica. Hopefully next time to an all-inclusive.



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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why a Christmas Cruise is a Great Idea for Families


Many families look for unique ways to spend the holidays and cruises offer a no-effort option for holiday festivities. Cruisers need to just bring along a few gifts and the rest of the planning will be handled by the staff on the ship. There are no trees to put up and no huge amounts of wrapping. Some cruise ships let you buy a small tree with decorations for your room. No cooking and cleaning, and all the comforts of home, what else could you ask for? Most cruise lines decorate beautifully for the holiday season. Some even bring snow machines on board so that guests can enjoy a white Christmas while at sea, and Santa makes an appearance on many ships. Special seasonal meals are also provided, so you do not miss the Christmas dinner. There is even Church services on many of the ships. Then there are the celebrations that you might find at the islands or ports you are visiting. It is always best to check if anything is going on.


If you live in a cold area of the country, there is nothing better than sipping a nice cool colada as you sail on a catamaran, or lounge by the beach with your loved ones, while it is cold and maybe snowing in your neck of the woods. For a stress-free, leave-the-work-to-someone-else Christmas, a cruise is a perfect option.

 I am not sure I could ever do a Holiday Christmas cruise. My husband would never go for it since he wouldn't have his entire family there. I think it would be fun if everyone would go....What do you guys think? Have you done it? How did it go? Are you considering it?



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Friday, December 17, 2010

A mid-Winter escape with the kids not 20 minutes from Boston?


On Ferncroft Rd just off Rte 1 in Danvers, Massachusetts and only 19 miles north of Boston awaits 65,000 square feet of indoor wet and wild fun at the Crowne Plaza Boston North Shore. Here, twisting and turning waterslides of bodies and rafts, a basketball pool. Zero-depth entry wave pool, dumping bucket, adventure river, climbing structure, whirlpools, lap pool and activity pools with lily pads for the kids to hop across. Movies are shown in the Dip-in Theater (really cute), and near the water action is the Key Quest Arcade with arcade and video games. You can even rent private cabanas here, as well, with refrigerator, TV and lounge chairs. 
Dip In Theater

The water park is open to registered hotel guests that purchase water resort packages and to day guests. Advance daily admission passes are available on CoCo Key's Website.http://www.cocokeywaterresort.com/locations/danvers/index.aspx
Dining inside the park, including fast food from Pizza Hut and A&W Root Beer, is nothing to get too excited about. More adventurous diners may want to check out the nicely appointed restaurant at the Crowne Plaza. My family and I enjoyed the water park, and the cost with the hotel room for the night was not to bad for the amount of time we spent in there. There was a nice hot tub to sit in, and we had no problems finding a place to eat or chairs to sit on. My twin daughters gave the place two thumbs up! A great place to bring the kids to chase off those winter blues.
Climbing structure part of the water park
Let us know what you thought of COCO Key if you have gone. Where do you go when you can't hop on a plane and head south to get away from the winter blues?
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Raises suggested gratuity recommendations.....

Most people who work the labor intensive jobs on a cruise ship get paid very low wages. Most of them that I have met are sending most of their money back to where they live to family, and they make more in tips than in their paychecks. I must admit that it is quite a raise, but most of these people more than earn what they are even suggesting now...The increase is across the board 19%.

How do you feel about it? I think it is fair. We may not like it, but for the most part, cruise ship personnel really earn those tips. The new recommended daily gratuity for dining and housekeeping staff is $11.65 per passenger and $13.90 per suite passenger, for sailings that commence on and after July 1. The current recommended gratuity is $12 for passengers in suites and $9.75 for everyone else. 


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Monday, December 6, 2010

Boston with kids.....

So here is one city I do know. One city, I have explored with my own children and can tell you it is easy to navigate and has a multitude of things to do. Here you can find Mother Goose's resting place right next to the resting place of our founding fathers. You can see where famous battles took place, visit a green monster, ride swan boats, and visit Paul Revere's house and the church where he hung the lanterns. There are witch trials, sailing ships, Brewery's and baseball...oh my! Any season of the year there is so much to see and do. Below are some ideas for everyone in your family.


Links to many tours and places families should not miss.


For the sports enthusiasts-
Larry Bird's Bronze Sneakers-size 13 ½ sneakers cast in bronze
Location: Faneuil Hall, Boston
Public Transportation: Government Center (Green or Blue Line)
Cost and Hours: Free, open 24 hours/day

Arnold "Red" Auerbach Statue- former Celtics coach
Location: Faneuil Hall, Boston
Public Transportation: Government Center (Green or Blue Line)
Cost and Hours: Free, open 24 hours/day  

Boston Marathon Finish Line-
Location: Boylston Street, Back Bay, Boston
Public Transportation: Copley (Green Line)
Cost and Hours: Free, open 24 hours/day


Fenway Park Tour-
Location: Yawkey Way, Boston

Public Transportation- Commuter rail and Green line
Cost and Hours: charge, open 9-4 M-Sat and 12-5 Sun

Museum of Fine Arts
Location: Huntington Ave, Boston  
Public Transportation: Green Line
Cost and Hours:
Mon and Tues. 10 am–4:45 pm
Wednesday – Friday 10 am–9:45 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10 am–4:45 pm

Adults $20
Seniors and Students 18 and older $18
Youths 6 and under FREE
Youths 7-17, weekdays before 3 pm $7.50*
*Youths 7-17 admitted free on weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and public school holidays

Boston's Children Museum
Location: Children’s Wharf at 308 Congress Street, Boston
Public transportation: South Station (MBTA Commuter Rail, Red Line, Amtrak and Private Bus Carriers) and Courthouse Station (Silver Line Waterfront).
cost and hours: Adults: $12.00 Seniors(65+): $12.00 Children (1-15): $12.00
(0-12 Months): Free! Open every day 10am - 5pm Fridays 10am - 9pm

Museum of Science
Location: 1 Science Park, Boston
Public Transportation: Green Line

Cost and hours:
  Adult
(12+)
Senior
(60+)
  Child
(3 - 11)
Exhibit Halls $21.00 $19.00 $18.00
Omni $9.00 $8.00 $7.00
Planetarium $9.00 $8.00 $7.00

Regular Hours (through July 4)
Saturday - Thursday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday, 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Summer Hours (July 5 - Labor Day)
Saturday - Thursday, 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday, 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
      New England Aquarium
      Location : 1 Central Warf, Boston

      Public Transportation: Blue Line

      Cost and Hours:
      Adult Aquarium admission $21.95

      Child (3-11) Aquarium admission $13.95

      Senior (60+) Aquarium admission $19.95

      Child under age 3 Free

      Aquarium Members Free

      Winter Hours- September 7 - June 30 Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm Saturday, Sunday and most holidays,* 9 am - 6 pm

      Whale watch-
      Location: at New England Aquarium
      Cost and hours - April -late Nov
      So check here for times and dates http://www.neaq.org/visit_planning/whale_watch/whale_watch_schedule.php








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      Tuesday, November 30, 2010

      Shrek’s Princess Fiona named Allure of the Seas' godmother




      Royal Caribbean chose Princess Fiona, an animated character from the Shrek film franchise, to be godmother of the Allure of the Seas. The ship’s naming ceremony took place on Sunday. 

      The Shrek films were released by DreamWorks Animation, the film studio that has partnered with Royal Caribbean. DreamWorks films and characters will be part of the Allure’s entertainment, including the ice show, themed meals and parades.

      Princess Fiona appeared on a movie screen during the naming ceremony. The traditional breaking of a champagne bottle on the ship’s hull was "electronically activated by one swift karate chop by Princess Fiona," said Royal Caribbean. Click here to see a video.
      Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain said Princess Fiona "symbolizes the fun and entertainment that is so extraordinary on Allure of the Seas."

      How cool is that? I wonder if some of the Disney ships will satr having character godmothers? Christenings of ships is a long standing tradition, and traditionally was for royalty and goverment officials. Now adays we have country music singers (Reba) and now a animated character!

      http://www.travelweekly.com/article3_ektid225022.aspx




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      Monday, November 29, 2010

      Planning for school vacations!!!

      If you are a parent, then you are limited in your vacations, unless you have no qualms about taking your kids out of school for a week. Honestly, there is no right or wrong here, just what works out the best for your family. For the purpose of this article, I am speaking about the Winter breaks, Spring breaks and Summer vacation. These vacations must be planned early for the best locations and rates. The closer in to your vacation you get the more expensive it will be, and the  less likely you are to get the place, or building locations you want. As an example, I was asked to book a February break vacation for a family of 4 last Oct, for a vacation starting February 16th 2010. They wanted to go to Disney and there was not an available room to be found at a discount or with free dining. The same family then tried to do an all inclusive resort for the same time period and found out that the trip and the airfare would almost cost the same to the place they wanted to go to. February vacation out of the New England states must be booked early to avoid high airline prices and booked rooms, as everyone is trying to avoid the cold weather for a week.

      My suggestion is to book early with your travel agent. Put down your deposit, and if you change your mind, you can get it back. Many vacation spots give you the best price when they first get released, and then rise as inventory goes down. Cruises do this almost constantly. Sometimes they have a certain number of cabins at a certain price once they are sold the price increases. Keep checking on the price of your vacation, some times the price can be adjusted if it drops. Call your travel agent immediately if it does and have it adjusted, many times they might catch the drop and adjust it for you.

      Our agents are already booking Summer and even Holiday 2011 trips already so please do not wait until the last minute to book your vacation.



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      Thursday, November 25, 2010

      Black Friday-Cyber Monday Blog Hop Sale!


      Welcome to the Black Friday-Cyber Monday Blog Hop. We hope you will join us for some great deals and giveaways. The following businesses have been so awesome as to showcase some specials for you so that you may find some great, unique holiday gifts at great prices this weekend. There will also be some Giveaways that start on Thanksgiving Day and end at midnight on Cyber Monday!!

      To get in on the fun Click Here to find the kick off post. and follow the instructions. Link up your blog, follow as many as you wish and check out the great deals and giveaways. Each giveaway will have it's own entry requirements and will be listed on the main kick off post starting on 11/25 (Thanksgiving Day).

      Be sure to link up your blog HERE and follow the instructions to get your extra entry into each giveaway!!
      HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!
      LET'S START HOPPING!!

      Happy Thanksgiving

      Thanksgiving Day Graphics 
      From our families to yours, may you have a wonderful, peaceful and happy Thanksgiving Day!

      Wednesday, November 24, 2010

      Small Business Saturday....we are participating!




      Amex Small Business Saturday



      On Saturday November 27, 2010 Amex will help small  business like mine by offering customers an incentive to buy at small local businesses. If you ask for a quote on Saturday via email, telephone or through our website or blogs, and pay with your American express. We will also add a $50 restaurant.com gift certificate and a a $25 onboard credit for a cruise or $25 credit towards a vacation over $1600.00.  If you book a Disney cruise or vacation we will also throw in Disney beach towels for your kids!!!!!


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      Spirit Air..

      As of right now Spirit Airline computers are down on the busiest travel day of the year. Supposedly, this is routine maintenance, but who would do that today of all days? Many airports have huge lines at Spirit counters as people have to be manually entered into their system for check in. Spirit is offering full refunds, or booking on other flights, either theirs or other airlines as compensation. But is that enough for people who do not make it to their destinations when they want?
      Spirit Air computer fiasco

      This summer Spirit lost my luggage for 6 days out of my 10 day Disney vacation. I did everything I was supposed to. First they said the luggage had been delivered and it was Disney's fault it was lost. Then they found the luggage in Lima, Peru because Disney and Magical Express got involved, and said that there were no tags on the luggage, and it was MY fault. Well, it showed up at my hotel with all of my tags and someone else's tag put their by the Spirit counter person sending it to Lima, Peru. I was supposed to have gotten a $25 credit (never happened), then a credit for not having the luggage and items we had to but...NEVER GOT IT!!!! I submitted everything, and they lost it twice. I have spoken to various people and nothing. I have given up not worth it, but they are what you pay for, lesson learned!

      Have you had a Spirit fiasco? Or any other airline for that matter? Have you missed something because the airlines did not follow through with their promises?




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      Tuesday, November 23, 2010

      I got the not even beginning of winter vacation blues......

      Here I am typing this out during my lunch time. Yes, I am dreaming of a vacation I won't be taking this year. This year my twin daughters turn 15 and in my culture (Hispanic) we celebrate their Quinceanera. We have been planning this shing-ding for over a year already and it isn't until next June! Just imagine a wedding, but there is no groom, and they do not move away ( not ready for them to leave the nest, so I am happy about that one). Anyway, I digress.....there will be no vacation in 2011. N Disney, no cruise, no anything...woe is me! I need a vacation to plan, and look forward to...I need something out there calling my name and enticing me to think of ways to upgrade and make it better. Just when the economy (according to the news btw) is getting better and travel is rising, I have to stay home!

      Yet, I am lucky. I may not go anywhere but Cape Cod this summer. and I may not fly or cruise anywhere, but I get to dream about 2012 while booking, researching and finding vacations for others. Yeah, sounds weird, but think of the arsenal of places I am learning about to add to my bucket list. I want to visit places now I had never even thought of visiting, and in some cases never even knew they existed to want to go to!

      I never thought of visiting Dubai, or taking a Russian River Cruise. I never knew that you could cruise in the United States on an old fashion paddle boat, or  take a safari trip in Africa where you never stay at a hotel. I want to drink vodka with million year old ice that has been cut out of a glacier seconds before, and stay at an all-inclusive resort where they pick me up at the airport in a Rolls Royce and I have a butler who unpacks and bring me lunch at my cabana by the ocean at lunch everyday.  These are experiences that I could not afford everyday, but I could do for a week. I may not do all of them before I take my final trip, but dang it is fun to think about them and have them on that bucket list. Darn movie....I am determined to do all of the trips I mentioned above and I want my kids there with me...We only live once and you can't take it with you.

      So, now that I babbled...do you have a travel bucket list? Where do you dream to go? Will you do what you have t to get there??? Let me know...share with us...I am dying to know, maybe just maybe you might have something I have overlooked!




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      Friday, November 19, 2010

      Please help our daughter's school help the homeless and elderly

      My daughter's school (Mount Saint Charles Academy) is participating in the community service project below and needs our votes. I would appreciate it if you could vote for them.

      In April, Tranquil Water Gardens approached 5 local schools with an idea to showcase the artistic talents of their students and to benefit their local community. The idea borrows the Macy's Holiday window display concept and adds a competitive spin to it. Each school is given a storefront window to design their holiday display in. Voting for the displays will start on November 19th and end on December 15th. Voting will be open to the public. The winning school will be awarded $500 to donate to a charity in their community, and the other 4 schools will each be awarded $250 to donate to a local charity in their community. Please vote for Mount Saint Charles Academy.

      Please click here to vote for our window display....


       

      Thursday, November 18, 2010

      Introducing Family Cruise 4 Sale!

      I have started another blog. That new blog will be, updated as soon as I get new info with current sales, on cruises that come into our agencies. We will also post any onboard credit or incentives we are giving out to our customers. Please come and visit, follow us and get up to date sales! Let us know what you think!!!
       Family Cruise 4 Sale

      Wednesday, November 17, 2010

      Do you buy new underwear every time you travel?

      Ok, so this entry is a little...teeny.....tiny ribbing on a friend ( you know who you are), who every time she has traveled goes out and buys new underwear and socks. She must have the hugest collection of underwear know to mankind. I think she also buys new socks. When asked she says just in case you never know....Know what? What does she know that I don't? Are there secret undie police at airports? Heck a few dirty holey pair might just be what the doctor ordered for those who get a kick out of going through others luggage.

      Now, I have to be honest, I have my own travel quirks too. I overpack...I overpack to the point of thinking of every scenario that might maybe happen and being prepared for it.  Yup, it might snow in Jamaica, or ou never know you might need that 3rd bathing suit...Yup, I am an over packer!

      Another friend brings a ton of gadgets to immortalize the trip. Underwater camera, regular camera, SLR camera, flip video camera, cell phone...and then hardly ever uses it for other than a few pictures. Lets not mention the assortment of batteries and cords that accompany all the equipment.

      No wonder the airlines have been charging for bags, we want to bring all the conveniences of home with us on vacation, even when we don't use them.

      I won't even go into what our kids want to bring.....stuffed animals, pillow, favorite blanket, favorite jeans...blah blah blah......

      So, what are your crazy travel rituals? Do you have any? You guys are a quiet groups, I feel like I am talking to myself??? There is an echo in this room does anyone else but me hear it????




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      Monday, November 15, 2010

      How do you feel about the new the Transportation Security Administration's technique for patting down airline passengers at airport security?

      A friend emailed me today about this. She was skived out at our choices at the TSA checkpoints these days. She has a teen aged daughter, as I do and we were both emailing back and forth about the procedure. Both of us were more apt to do the scanner, since the actual physical option really did not appeal to either of us.

      In Newspapers, and news reports airport travelers are calling it groping, prodding or just plain inappropriate - a pat-down that probes places where the sun doesn't shine. The TSA is calling it the new reality of airport security following the uncovering of a terrorist plot last month to blow up cargo planes en route to the United States.

      The TSA has instituted a new type of pat-down of passengers, a move that's part of a general tightening of air security. If a full-body scanning machine shows something strange or a passenger declines to go through the machine, an officer will perform a more personal search. Maybe the media is making a big deal out of this but the new regulations says the pat downs are now not back handed (using palm and fingers) and are rather invasive.

      On CNN there is a audio tape of a guy getting patted down. the TSA agent is very professional but when he told the guy he needed to do a "groin search" with a description, the guy said, "if you touch my junk I'll have you arrested." needless to say, the guy opted out of traveling that day.
      CNN audio of TSA screening

      A friend of mine who is a TSA agent says there are very strict rules about how it is to be done. There are parts of the body where you have to do it two handed so it is with the palm, not the back of the hand, but it is on the leg where you sort of "wrap' your hand around the ankle, and move up the calf to the thigh. The entire time they are doing it, and prior to touching the person, they are required to explain everything they are doing and going to do, and are monitored very closely by a supervisor.

      A parent quoted in Saturday's Washington Post said,"It's more than just patting you down. It's very intrusive and very insane. I wouldn't let anyone touch my daughter like that," said Marc Moniz of Poway, Calif., who is planning to accompany his daughter's eighth-grade class from San Diego to Washington in April. "We're not common criminals." My friend, who chose to be anonymous said, "The media may be making a big deal out of this but first person stories tell me otherwise. We tell our kids not to let a stranger touch them and then we as parents are asked to give permission for this???"

      "We're opposed to letting TSA treat us like criminals," said James Babb of Eagleville, Pa., an activist who is organizing the We Won't Fly campaign. This group launched the Web site, WeWontFly.com. It has gotten more than 70,000 hits per day since going online a week ago. The Web site asks passengers to say no to scans and pat-downs and for TSA to remove its "porno-scanners" and "gropers."

      The Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security will hold a Transportation Security Administration Oversight Hearing next Wednesday.

      What do you think? If you are traveling in the near future how do you feel about it? If you have kids how do you feel about that? Let u know how you feel?




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      Saturday, November 13, 2010

      Kudos to Marriott Brand hotels for Baby Perks!

      I must say that Marriott has just made traveling with baby just a little less complicated. This year at five Marriott brand hotels, the Tots Travel Too program has been rolled out at over 2500 properties.

      Complimentary perks include the use of a travel crib and laundered slipcover, and a take home bath toy that squirts. Parents can also ask at the front desk for handy complimentary items such as outlet covers for baby-proofing, nightlights, disposable bibs, baby shampoo and baby lotion.

      The Marriott brands participating in the US and Canada are Courtyard by Marriott; Fairfield Inn and Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites.




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      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      Top 10 mistakes to avoid when traveling....

      1) Never put cost of a hotel over safety or cleanliness. Yes, there are great bargains out there, and there are also expensive hotels that can fall into the categories above, but be careful. You tend to get what you pay for, you may be sacrificing your safety because of the location or clientele of the hotel. A hotel who sacrifices cleanliness to keep costs down will also not be appreciated when you bring home tiny friends.

      2) Do not pay for airline baggage fees. Make sure you know what the airlines charge for bags or even overage fees for bags over a certain amount of pounds. Some airlines charge for checked in bags, but some even charge for carry-ons. Make sure you read the fine print about baggage. Also do not over pack when on vacation. A pound over the airlines limit could cost you as much as $50.

      3) Do not use your airline miles on short trips. IT makes better sense to use money for for the short cheaper flights. Use your miles for longer trips that cost more, and make the most of them.

      4) Research your trip. Know what you want to do, and a rough idea of how much it will cost, so there are no surprises. Finding out you do not have enough budgeted for the things you want to do, can put a damper on your trip.

      5) No matter where you are or how you travel, stop and get snacks at a local grocery store. If you have kids it will save you plenty when they get the munchies. On a plane, you can't bring fluids but you can save a bundle by bringing food or snacks for the plane from home.

      6) Renting a car at the airport will always be more expensive, as will gas the closer you get to the airport. If visiting family have someone pick you up and rent away from the airport, and get gas far enough away from the airport not to pay the extra cost for convenience.

      7) Make sure you pack toiletries and medicine, including cough medicine and pain relief. As I can attest when I had to pay $8 for a small tube of tooth paste. Make sure you follow airline rules for liquids and where to pack them, so they do not end up in the airport dumpster.

      8)  Always check for smaller airports that discount airlines might fly into that cost less. For example I live between Boston Logan and Providence T.F. Green, and if I drive an extra 20 minutes more I can also go to the Manchester Airport in NH. Both Manchester and Providence usually beat the Logan prices. Check your destination for nearby airports too.

      9) Make sure you know what is needed for documentation for where you are traveling too. If you are flying outside the USA then you need an passport. If you are cursing from a location that either starts or ends outside of the USA, then you need a passport. On a cruise that starts and ends in the US, you do not legally need a passport at this time. A birth certificate, or a government issued identification like an unexpired license will suffice.

      10) If going on a cruise, buy travel insurance and come in the day before if possible. For all the people who escape the winter cold and snow to  board a cruise, know that you risk missing a flight or cruise due to weather, or mechanical failure. Your cruise can be over before you make it to the airport if weather grounds your plane. Coming in the day before helps alleviate some of that situation, but a good storm could cripple an airport for days. That insurance will come in handy if you make the cruise but your luggage doesn't.

      I am sure there are many other travel snafus everyone has encountered. Let us know what is something you avoid when traveling?




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      Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Welcome to Pardise....with Butler included

      A Sandals (and Beaches) vacation fit for a King or just someone very rich....at a price you can afford.

      You work all year. Sometimes missing important events and moments to make sure you have a job, or to advance in your profession. You give it your all, and now you have a week or two as a reward for all that work. Don't you deserve to be spoiled and catered to? Everything in this vacation is prepaid and up front from excursions, to entertainment, and of course your butler.....just close your eyes and imagine it.......

      Imagine arriving  at your Sandals resort in a Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce private transfer from the airport! You meet your own personal butler who's sole job is to anticipate and cater to your every need. Your butler takes care of check-in while you sip champagne, cool off and relax in your spacious suite. You change your clothes and head for cocktails and dinner, while your butler unpacks your suitcases, hangs up your clothes and even spread tissue in the drawers before arranging your clothes there. He gives you a cell phone so he is always a phone call away. He has reserved a prime location for your lounge chairs at the pool and beach. He delivers a cooler of your favorite beverages to the beach or pool, whether it be water, soft drinks, champagne or beer. You forgot your suntan lotion? No problem call the butler he delivers it to you at the beach. One day your butler calls from the sandwich table at the buffet to ask exactly what you would like on the sandwich that you requested  delivered to your lounge on the beach! Your Butler handles all of your dinner reservations with prime table locations and escorts you to dinner, where you discover a linen tablecloth covered in flower petals and candles. Your butler might arrange private in-room meals – breakfast, lunch or a candlelit dinner – with a special personal menu. In the late evening you came back to your room to find that your turn-down service included towel art in the form of intertwined swans, surrounded by flower petals with candles with soft music playing in the background. But the night is young, and your butler has prepared a bubble bath in the whirlpool tub, complete with candles, chocolate covered strawberries(your favorites) and an iced bucket of champagne! When you regrettably have to return to reality, the butler packs your bag and escorts you to your VIP private Mercedes or Rolls. Who wouldn't want a vacation where you are treated like royalty? Don't you deserve that after working all year?
      Butlers ensure that all whims and wishes will be met at all times…in short, a butler will do anything you ask as long as it is legal!  Butler Service makes an already special event that much more memorable!

      Contact us at 1-508-808-5995 or at gloria@secondstartravel.net for more information on a Sandals or Beaches vacation with concierge or butler service, because you deserve the best!



      Click our logo above to go to our website at Second Star Travel for more info.

      Tuesday, September 28, 2010

      Great letter to "book it yourself travel" enthusiasts....about travel agents

      Dear client:

      I hope and trust that you will book your next vacation with our firm. But we know there are alternatives out there, and we know you are receiving mailings and seeing ads that often urge you to book directly with a travel supplier online.

      We enjoy an open and honest relationship with our clients. So I would like to share some straight talk with you about using toll-free numbers or websites to book your vacation directly with the provider.

      The best-kept secret in the travel industry is that those who book direct are paying for something they are not receiving: the services of a professional travel consultant.

      I realize you are being told that it is easy to book your cruise, tour or airline tickets online. You can do it yourself. Just trust the supplier to take care of everything and have your credit card within easy reach.

      Be thrilled that you live in a time when you can just click and travel. It's all so easy, isn't it? Turn over your credit card number and personal information to someone in a cubicle in a reservations factory or, better still, to outsourced labor working out of a call center overseas. Now your credit card information is in Bangladesh, and your vacation will be expertly planned and delivered.

      So why use my services?

      Well, the first thing you need to know (the industry's best-kept secret) is that you are going to pay my fee or commission when you book directly because it is always -- not sometimes, always -- built into the price of any brochure program. It's the way the industry prices.

      Tour operators and cruise lines, even top-grade hotels, love direct bookings because a portion of the travel agent's commission that is built in to every program simply goes into their pockets. They believe that it costs them far less to maintain order-takers in a reservations center.

      One hotel chain, years ago, was actually using prisoners on work release to handle phone reservations. Most telephone res agents who work for cruise lines are commissioned salespeople with little knowledge of the industry. Their goal is simple: Try to get a direct booking, earn their smaller commission, and let the company pocket the rest of the total commission built into the fare.

      So when you book something directly, you are making a sucker bet that the person on the other end of the line has your best interests at heart, will look out for further discounts and apply them to your record and will be there for you in an emergency.

      Imagine what happens when you make a direct booking. Your credit card information is stored, and you receive a computer-generated invoice. That's it. You are now a travel statistic. The computer software that is now your "agent" will notify you when final payment is due, and you will receive final documents.

      Of course, you will not receive any of the amenities available through our office, so you might actually be missing out on pricing incentives and advantages.

      Let me state it as clearly as I can: With the exception of certain airline and hotel websites that run occasional online "sales," you will never receive preferred pricing on any online site.

      If a tour operator or cruise line did not give us pricing that was equal to or better than what they offer on their site, no reputable travel consultant would ever again sell their product. It just never happens. You can always count on the fact that our pricing will be as good or better than any tour or cruise prices you see on direct booking sites.

      But frankly, I don't want you to book with us because it is always a better value than booking directly. There are other, more important reasons that have little to do with price.

      There is not enough space to list all of the things we provide to our valued clients that are never provided when you book directly with a cruise line or tour operator. But here are just a few to keep in mind:

      We are going to compare what competitive companies offer. We are going to advise you on the very best product to meet your needs. We can point out the advantages and disadvantages of several options. Booking directly puts you in touch with a single-product sales person. That is all you get.

      We provide special documentation and advice about ports, sightseeing options and even restaurants. We know the best times to do your itinerary, and we might have affiliated offices abroad that can make your vacation truly memorable.

      One of the most important things we can do is analyze your travel insurance needs. If you book direct, you get no options, no discussion. You are offered only whatever the site happens to be selling. We offer a universe of options, and that often saves you money.

      Suppose something goes wrong? Suppose someone gets sick, and you need help getting home in a hurry? Suppose your vacation experience was unsatisfactory? Who is your advocate if you are dealing directly with the company operating the program? You have none.

      Perhaps the most important single thing that we do is give you an honest, unbiased view of both the upside and downside of the vacation option you are considering. Book direct and you get none of that. Everything about the product will be painted in glowing terms. Everything will smell like a strawberry.

      Finally, a personal note.

      When I go to sleep at night, I am generally aware of where my clients are traveling and what current conditions they are likely to encounter. I worry about my clients. I think about their welfare, and I think about ways that I can enhance their experiences abroad.

      I am fairly certain that the direct booking tied up somewhere in a supplier's software booking program is incapable of showing a "booking statistic" much empathy.

      Contributing editor Richard Turen owns Churchill and Turen.

      I believe Mr. Turen that you get more bang for your buck having someone else do your planning, taking care of errors, and being there when needed. Something you can not get from a program or a call center agent, I hope as people read this that they understand that we are here to help them, and whether they use us or not, they have already paid for us. I hope you use Second Star Travel for your next travel need, and we get to meet you and help you plan your vacation dream.

      Monday, September 27, 2010

      Do you know how to use FastPass at Disney World?

      Fastpass is Disney's brilliant answer to long lines at the most popular rides at their Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks. Many people simply don't take advantage of Fastpass and continue to wait in long theme park ride lines that they could have avoided.

      There's a lot of misunderstanding how Fastpass works. So let's start with the most important points.

      Fastpass is free with park ticket!

      First of all, Fastpass is free to anyone holding a Disney parks admittance ticket. So if you've got your ticket to enter Walt Disney World (or Disneyland), then you've got your ticket to use Fastpass.

      Our best advice is if you are going during a busy time? Use early entry if staying on site and change to another park when that park gets to crowded for your liking. Don't leave before using the Fastpasses you have collected throughout the day. Make sure you get the next Fastpass when it is available. Send older kids with everyone's passes to get them and meet you somewhere. Always go back to the hotel mid day to cool off in the pool and relax for the late night hours. Get plenty of water during the day, which you can bring in....water is expensive at WDW!!

      Disney's Fastpass Distribution
      Put your ticket into the machine, get a fastpass

                                                                  How to Use Fastpass


      In order to use it, all you need to do is place your Disney park ticket into the Fastpass machine, where available and it will then give you a ticket with a return time for that attraction.

      You then return to that attraction anytime during the "return time" or later, so you don't have to race back to get on the ride the moment the Fastpass becomes valid. As long as you return after the first time listed n the Fastpass you can get in line. It is a misconception that you must ride within the hour stated.

      Once your fastpass return time has rolled around, all you have to do is return to the attraction, get in the fastpass line and hand it over to the Disney cast member. You might wait a bit before riding, but usually it is no more than 10 minutes.

      Note the time indicated for getting your next fastpass
      How often can you get a fastpass?

      When Disney first started the fastpass system, you could only hold one fastpass at a time, but they've since relaxed the rules slightly. Now, you can get your next fastpass either at the start of the "return time" for your current pass or two hours after the one you are holding was issued.

      Because you will generally be holding only one fastpass at a time, it makes sense to have an attack plan for the attractions where you want to use it. Fastpass attractions tend to be spread throughout the park to prevent bottlenecks in one area of the theme park, so you'll want to plan a route that keeps you from criss-crossing the park all day long.





      Arrive early for popular attractions

      It's important to go and get your fastpass early for the popular rides on busy days. Otherwise you may find yourself with a fastpass that isn't good until late in the evening, after you've long since left the park. So, it is always best to get to the park early, get the fastpass to the popular rides first and then when it is busy in the afternoon, use up the fastpasses while everyone waits.

      On the busiest days, some attractions will run out of fastpasses very early in the day. This is common at Animal Kingdom's Everest roller-coaster and Disney-MGM's Tower of Terror, and the ever popular Toy Story Mania at the Studios. So get your fastpass early for these attractions if you're at Disney World in the summer or on a holiday weekend.


      Fastpass Attractions

      Fastpass isn't available at every attraction in the Walt Disney theme parks, but it is usually for many of the most popular rides, including: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom; Soarin', Mission Space and Test Track at Epcot; Rock-n-Roll Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios; and Kali River Rapids, Dinosaur and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom.

      Thursday, September 23, 2010

      Wow it has been a while.....

      Summer has come and gone...The kids are back to school, and actually so am I. Looking forward to my favorite season of the year Fall. Here in New England it is one of the best times to enjoy the great outdoors....but that is for another post.

      Looking back this was a fun filled summer. We spent a month after coming back from the Epic (we weren't impressed), in Falmouth, Ma. Falmouth is on Cape Cod and in the summer is a bustling little town, that reminds you of days gone by. From visiting one of my favorite shops "Blast From the Past" on Main Street, to Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium. There is so much to do and see here. The best beach in Falmouth is hands down Old Silver Beach, but get there early their parking lot is small and it fills quickly! If you want to venture to other parts of the Cape, there are whale watches and aquariums, bike paths and National Parks. Kids can miniature golf, ride go-carts and do soccer and batting cages.

      Want to see baseball as it used to be played, and see some upcoming talent? Go see the Cape Cod leagues team on a warm summer night. Baseball up close and under the lights. In some towns there are bands that play on certain evnings, and there are art festivals and food festivals. You can take fishing charters, visit Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to hob nob with the well off. Or you can sit back and just enjoy the lazy days of just smelling the ocean breeze, and BBQing in the back yard. There is something for everyone....

      Came home on Aug 1 and we were on a plane to Orlando, Florida on Aug 5th. Spent 10 great days in Disney, and one very wet but enjoyable day at Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Disney, is my obsession.....love planning to go, being there and hate coming home. One of those few vacations where there is something for everyone and everyone is happy. We spent 2 nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Kadani Village. Can't tell you how beautiful it was. We did not have a Savannah view, but when we walked out of our door and into the corridor there was a viewing area not 10 feet away. We stopped everyday to see the animals. We then transferred to the Dolphin Hotel. I love the Swan/Dolphin hotels but prefer the Swan only because it is smaller. Our suite here was gorgeous! We could see some of the fireworks from Illuminations from one of our windows. Love how easy it is to get to Epcot and The Studios. Not to mention that they have great rates...Sometimes you can get a rate there for the price of a moderate and have a 4* hotel. If you are a teacher or a nurse there is a special rate just for you. If you need help booking it let me know and we can help you. Then finally we had our last night at the Boardwalk. Another beautiful room, I can't say any of the three rooms we stayed at was a disappointment. They were incredible! We tried Magical Express for the first time and I was actually pleasantly surprised how quickly we got to the hotel, but then again we did get in after 6 pm.

      The first Sunday of our trip we ventured to Island Of Adventure to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was more than impressed with the theming of the area. You really felt immersed in the movie...the shops were not for show and inside they were selling what they did in the movies. I loved the Gringots ATM, and do not miss the frozen butter beer....The line to get into the Wand shop was over 3 hours long on a day that it poured 80% of the time. The Harry Potter ride itself was incredible and Disney better stop and see what is going on over there! I have always thought that the Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure ran circles around anything Disney had ever done, and I am a die hard Disney fan. Yes, the screens at times were a tiny bit grainy, and I could have done without the Dementors as I think they didn't quite fit in. But the ride as a hole was incredible. It is a must do...and you will want to do it again...If Island of Adventure/Universal continues putting out rides like this I will be visiting them more often. I plan to go again the next time I visit, on a day not so "WET"!

      We took advantage of early entry and fastpass at Disney, at Island of Adventure we used front of the line, but it does not include the Harry Potter stuff. You must wait in line for that. We really did not need the front of the line, since it was raining and that helped clear the crowds. If it had been a sunny day, they would have come in handy to actually see the rest of the park. BTW, do visit the rest of the park...it has some great rides!

      On Aug 16th we got on a plane and came home. It was almost time for my twin daughter to start high school and my oldest to go back to college for her second year of college. I am so feeling old. Now we are all back to school and summer is just a memory...but I am lucky that I have such fun filled summers with my girls and such great memories I can relive over and over!


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      Sunday, July 11, 2010

      Norwegian Cruise Epic Inaugural Cruise 7/2/20 Part two

      This ship as we stated before is an entertainment ship. Some cruise lines focus on the family, others cruiser amenities,and others entertainment. Norwegian is definitely focusing on entertainment. We saw Blue Man group the first night. We got there about 30 minutes early and I suggest that if you want a decent seat you get there a little early. You are guaranteed a seat for that show, but seats are first come first serve. We were about 6 rows from the front and dead center and thought it perfect. No fear of getting splatter but close enough not to miss anything. The show is loud, if you do not like loud this might not be the show for you. All I can say about it is that it is fascinating and intriguing. I enjoyed the show from beginning to end and laughed through most of it. These guys are wonderful and I wonder why I had never seen this show before. It is a must do.

      We were supposed to see Second City the first night too, but because of a snafu they canceled the show and we saw it the second night. They still have to work out some scheduling since the manager was not happy to see us entering her venue. So, on Saturday at 11:45m we saw Second City. It was good but not what I was expecting. It was definitely off color which did not bother me, but did others. It was kind of disjointed and sometimes they spoke so fast I missed it, and they were only about 3 feet away from me. It is a do once kind of thing.

      We went to Howling with the Moon, and like I said before. If you are a fan of JellyRolls in Disney World then this would be a disappointment. They got the crowd going very late into the night, but I think it was more due to the alcohol intake in the room and not the entertainment.

      Now Fat City was another story. We were in there twice and the band and group that was in there each time were exceptional. One group was 4 songwriters and we stayed the entire time they were on. The other was the jazz band that we caught only one song and they were well worth it and really worked the crowd. It is definitely a nightly haunt if I returned to this ship.

      The casino was great. We would stop in there often. There were a ton of .01-.05 slot machines with some .25 and up to $1 slots. There were other games like the coin drop and many tables with everything from Let it Ride to Roulette. There seemed to be people there all the time. There were quite a few machines scattered about to cash your vouchers or make change. The casino was very good.

      The other thing was that there were entertainers scattered around the ship. There always seemed to be someone near the steakhouse playing the guitar, The guys was truly worth listening too. Lots of songs from the 70's to now. The other place we always saw someone was the huge video screen below the Sushi bar. There was usually a duo there playing the guitar and violin, that was also very good on the ears.

      The band up on deck were the calypso kind that you get on almost any ship. Nothing to exceptional but would be missed if not there, because you expect that music on the deck.

      We heard that Cirque Dreams Dinner is not to be missed and reservations should be made as soon as they open. The venue holds less than 260 people and they go very fast. We did not get in, but heard it was well worth it.

      We did not hear anything about the Legends in concert or the character breakfast which were sold out quickly. I did see the Elvis, Tina Turner and Marilyn Monroe impersonators at a NCL event in Florida before and they were awesome, so I would not expect anything less on the ship.

      We did take a spa tour and I have never seen a spa like their. It is huge and has many steam rooms. Some with scents, some single sex and some for both men and women. They have the heated lounges, a private lounge area, many therapy rooms, a small pool with water feature and hot tubs, and a huge gym. Last but not least they have a wonderful salon.

      Up on deck the water park is more fun than a 46 year old woman should have. The plunge is so much fun. The green slide is very dark and extremely fast. The fushia slide is fast but you can actually see as you slide The pool has great water features and places to sit and socialize. The kids area is in the shade which is perfect for little ones, though it also means it is quite cool there. We walked around the sports are and people were enjoying the rock wall and the first ever grappling wall at sea. The spider web thing always had kids in it, as did the basketball court. We saw the trampoline thing and the ice skating rink but no one was using them. A word for those who have ice skated on RCCL's rink this rink is outside and is synthetic. There is no ice involved at all, and since no one was using it and I did not want any broken bones, we can not tell you if it was any good.

      If you have any other questions ask away!!!

      Monday, July 5, 2010

      Norwegian Epic Inaugural Cruise July 2-4 NYC part 1

      The alarm went off at 3 am in the morning on Friday. We got ready and we were on the road by 4 am. We took Christopherson our Australian Navigation device and he got us to NYC in just over 3 hours. It was a very nice drive and no traffic to speak of.

      Got to the pier way to early, at 7 am and were told to go to a corner of a lot and to wait til 9am when the parking lot would open for us. At 7:15 or so we were told to move and drive around NYC or live park and move when we saw the police. We did that until 8:45 or so. Then they let us in. An FYI for those parking at the NYC it is $30 a day. We were on the ship by 9:30 am. We brought on our own luggage on board and walked straight to our room.

      Before I start on the room, let me say one of the most important things to me on a cruise is the size of the cabin. we are a family of 5. For the most part there is always 4 or us traveling. The cabins though gorgeous, are very small. There is less than a foot and a half between the cabinets and the bed. Even for two people who are maybe a little Pooh sized it is a tight feel. Three people in our room would have caused someone to go overboard from the balcony if it was a 7 day cruise. Just my honest opinion. The cabinets are very efficient. There are some wired baskets in some lower cabinets for added space. Closets have two bars in the tall one and one in the small one. We had three large deep drawers for everything else. The light over the sink is dim, and I was told they will be fixing that in all the rooms, but the one over the large mirror was great. The medicine cabinet over the sink is a great touch too and gets stuff of the counter space which is small. There was a cabinet with the safe and more shelves to the right of the mirror. Don't put your pocketbook there and remember it is still there when you are 2.5 hours away. Believe me it is very hard to get any help on the ship once you are off it. Back to the room...the bed was very comfortable. Though Judy is tall (5 foot 10 inches) and her feet hung over the edge of the bed. We spoke to a gentleman who hated it because he was 6ft and he hung over up to his mid-calf. The covers and sheets were soft and felt luxurious.

      Now for the bathroom. I know it is supposed to have a European feel but the bathroom made me uncomfortable. Now I went with my friend Judy, and well it was uncomfortable to sit on the potty and be able to see movement through the frosted glass, and vice versa from the outside in. The same thing for the shower, though I closed the privacy curtain so I could come out of the shower to change. I was worried that if someone was changing they could come in while someone was dressing and everyone in the hall would get a free show BUT.....I was told that once you put your key in the slot to turn on the room electricity no one can come in that door. Yes, I found out the hard way that the slot next to the door is for you to put your room key in. Once you do that it turns the electricity on in the room. I finally had to call the front desk, because none to the electrical things were working in the room...DUH!

      I can not see a family with children older than 8 have an easy time with the bathrooms. Someone would be getting thrown out of the room at all times. Especially if it is a girl/boy combination.I did not like that the toilet door is noisy when you open and close it, especially wen it is late at night and you want to sleep. Also, the toilet is to the left of the room, has a sliding door you have to open to get out, and the sink is across the room on the right hand side. Not very hygienic in my opinion. We encountered many many agents and guests saying the rooms are to small for more than 2 people.

      The room would be great for a couple, newlyweds and very close friends. For families go for the bigger suites. The two bedroom one was very nicely done. But that come in a later posting. I love the numbers by the doors at the bottom is a wheel, and you turn it for service, do not disturb, turn down and welcome :) Very nice not to go searching for the tag you put on the door.

      We walked around the ship taking pictures and video of the suites. It was great having so many rooms open for viewing. We also took lots of video and pictures of the public areas.

      Let me say this for the EPIC...it is a mini Las Vegas. Their emphasis on this ship is entertainment. It has the largest casino on the high seas, with over 350 slot machines, and many many table games. The entertainment venues were wonderful. Everyone who saw Cirque was amazed. Blue Man Group was wonderful(do not miss it), the bars and restaurants we ate at were great. There is so much variety from a Brazilian restaurant to Sushi, and everything in between. We will go into detail on the ones we did visit ourselves. There was music everywhere for any musically taste. Two gorgeous screens 2 stories high that you could see sporting events, play the Wii, or have beautiful scenery from all over the word on while musicians played their instruments. The water park area is amazing, and the slides, pools and water features are an entire day of fun. Norwegian really out did themselves on the public and entertainment venues. You will not be bored on this ship. The regular "free" restaurants were pretty but small in comparison, the object is to have people use the specialty restaurants more than the main dining rooms. To be honest for the $18 cost per person it is worth to to go to Moderno Churrascaria.

      Stay tuned for videos, and pictures...the wire to download my pictures has mysteriously disappeared along with my pocketbook which is in lost and found on the ship going to Miami, as we speak.


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      Wednesday, June 30, 2010

      T-minus 48 hours an counting til I board the Norwegian Epic!

      By this time on Friday we will be at the cruise terminal in NYC. Almost had a heart attack when I was told the parking at the terminal was $30 a day. So, keep that in mind if you are cruising out of NYC. We are planning on leaving Massachusetts at 3 am to get to the terminal by 8 am. We do not want to miss one second of this.

      We are getting excited. The ship has been getting some great reviews from people on her transatlantic inaugural. I have never seen so many inaugural sailings on a ship. The only complaint I have heard so far has been the bathroom set up on this ship. The shower opens right into the room and is not enclosed. There is a privacy curtain but that just does not seem to be enough for anyone. We shall see how the two of us fair in this set-up.

      Anyway...I have made my reservations for Second City, and Blue Man group. On a waiting list for the Cirque dinner show. We will be searching out SpongeBOB and Dora for picture. I am packing my bathing suit for what I call the toilet bowl plunge slide on the top deck. I am trying each slide at least once...LOL. Going out to get a flip camcorder today if I can to video tape our happenings. I have packed nothing yet, but it should not be to hard to pack for a 2 night inaugural cruise, right? 2 day outfits and two night ones, plus a bathing suit? Sounds good, right?

      Will be checking out the Spa, the specialty restaurants, the casino and any and all entertainment I can find. I am armed with 3 cameras and hopefully one video camera after today.

      Let me know if anyone wants pictures of anything in particular on the ship!


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