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!


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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

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.