Last Minute Cruise Deals?

On April 6, 2014, in Cruise, Margaret's Travel Blog, Travel, by owentrvl

Last-minute in the sandI am often asked if you can get the best deal on a cruise if you wait until the ‘last minute’ to book it.

More often than not, that is a myth. Actually, the earlier you book, the better the rates and the better your chance of getting the room type you want in the location you want on the ship.

If it is an itinerary that is only offered once or twice, the chances are that the ship will sell out, especially in the least expensive inside rooms and the most expensive suites.

However, the same cruise itineraries that are offered week after week or every other week, might not sell out as quickly. But you still run the risk of not getting the room location you want.

For example, a Caribbean cruise that sails for seven nights from Florida, week after week, may not be full so the cruise line will discount the rates. However, you have to be very flexible and able to travel at a moment’s notice. This might work well for those who live close to an embarkation port like Miami. But if you have to fly across the country with just a few days notice, the airline cost will likely be more than the cruise savings. Also, the shorter cruise lengths, three or four nights, are more susceptible to these discount possibilities.

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Windstar Cruises-Sale

On October 23, 2013, in Cruise, by owentrvl

Windstar Cruises



Call today before it’s too late!

Windstar’s NCVW consumer offer is a $100 onboard credit per stateroom, plus One-Week Sale savings of up to 68% on selected sailings. Destinations on sale include popular itineraries in the Caribbean, Northern Europe, Greek Isles & Turkey, Panama Canal, Tahiti and more. Fares start at just $1,499 on selected sailings.

Book during our National Cruise Vacation One Week Sale, Monday, October 21 through Monday, October 28, 2013. Use promo code 13NCW-SBC at time of booking.




World’s Largest Cruise Sale – Avalon Waterways

On October 23, 2013, in Cruise, by owentrvl


Avalon Waterways – NCVW specials:

Avalon picture

Call today before it’s too late!



Applicable Cruises:

Tulips of Northern Holland
Amsterdam to Amsterdam
March 30 & April 12, 2014

Tulip Time Cruise
Amsterdam to Amsterdam
March 26 & April 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 19, 27 & 30, 2014

Romantic Rhine
Zürich to Amsterdam
April 19 & 27, 2014

The Blue Danube Discovery
Budapest to Prague
April 28, 2014

Capitals of Central Europe
Prague to Budapest
April 7, 2014

Capitals of Central Europe
Budapest to Prague
March 31; April 14, 2014

The Legendary Danube
Prague to Budapest
March 25, 2014

Balkan Discovery
Budapest to Bucharest
April 2, 2014

Blue Danube to the Black Sea
Bucharest to Vienna
April 9, 2014

European Splendor
Vienna to Amsterdam
April 20, 2014

The Rhine & Moselle
Amsterdam to Basel
April 13, 2014

The Upper Rhine to the City of Music
Zürich to Vienna
April 25, 2014

Burgundy & Provence
Côte d’Azur to Paris
March 24, 2014

Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches
Paris to Paris
April 15, 2014

*Receive $650 off per person on the cruise/land only price of select 2014 Avalon Waterways vacations. Offer available on select dates of select cruises. Booking must be made, under deposit, and discount applied between October 16 and November 19, 2013 for travel at select times in 2014. Avalon and Royal Suites excluded. Offer reliant on space availability and may be withdrawn at any time. Not combinable with any other offer, other than Journeys Club Repeat Traveler benefit. Applies to new 2014 bookings only, and offer will not be applied to pre-existing bookings. Must mention ask & receive code NCVW2014. Offer reliant on space availability. Full cancellation penalties will apply. Additional restrictions may apply. May be withdrawn at any time.

Call today before it’s too late!




World’s Largest Cruise Sale

On October 18, 2013, in Cruise, River cruise, Travel, by owentrvl

National Cruise Vacation Week  is October 20 to 27, 2013.

CLIA NCVW round logo

We are joining thousands of cruise-selling travel agents for National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW), The World’s Largest Cruise Sale. This is an exciting event designed to showcase the incredible choice, diversity and value of cruise vacations.

Travel agencies across North America have teamed up with the 26 member lines of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to provide consumers with the exclusive offers and information on cruise vacations for an entire week!

This is your opportunity to take advantage of special value offers and other incentives to cruise.


We are here to help those who have cruised before and those considering their first cruise to get a real feel for what’s available with expert advice and assistance with cruise planning.

NCVW is the highlight of October’s National Cruise Vacation Month, the once-a-year period during which we focus on cruising, – the most enjoyable, satisfying and value-oriented vacation option available in today’s marketplace. Our agency is a member of CLIA.

Along with my over 23 years of travel agency experience, I earned the designation ‘Master Cruise Counselor‘ from CLIA and I am qualified to find the perfect cruise to match your vacation needs, lifestyle and budget.

Click here for the specials.

For more information or to book your cruise vacation, contact Margaret Owen, Cruise Pro at (510) 582-0540 or email


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Princess Cruises 3 for FREE Sales Event

On September 8, 2013, in Cruise, Travel, by owentrvl

If you’re considering an Alaska or Europe cruise in 2014, now is the time to book!


During this sales event you’ll get THREE FREE offers on 2014 Alaska and Europe cruises and cruisetours! You’ll get FREE stateroom upgrades where you can get the best stateroom available within that stateroom type for the lowest possible fare†, FREE shore excursions credits that will be added to your onboard account for shore excursions in ports of call during your cruise†† and a FREE specialty dinner for two where we reserve the dining time and venue on your behalf and all you have to do is show up with your $50 voucher from your stateroom!° What’s more, you can seal the deal with just a $100 deposit!** Hurry for the best stateroom selection!

In addition, we have groups on many sailings which gives you even more savings and benefits.

Contact us right away for more information or to reserve your cruise!

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Amazing Galapagos Islands – cruise!

On August 14, 2013, in Cruise, Galapagos, Travel, by owentrvl

Whale swimming on its back along our zodiac boat in the Galapagos islands!

This picture might look rather strange but if you can imagine…we were in a zodiac boat with about 10 other people during one of our excursions from our cruise to the Galapagos Islands. On this day our naturalist guide went looking for whales. Thank goodness he was patient and didn’t give up.

It took about 45 minutes, but it finally paid off when a whale showed up right next to our zodiac.

But the best part was that whale wanted to play…it would swim along one side of our boat and then disappear.

Seconds later, it reappeared and swam along the other side of our boat.

And then it disappeared again.

And then it reappeared–this time on it’s back!! It was giving us quite a show and it was exciting!

So that is what you see in the picture above–the whale swimming on its back, so close to our zodiac.

Before I took that cruise on the 96-passenger Celebrity Xpedition, I didn’t even know where the Galapagos Islands were, or that they are part of Ecuador. It was a wonderful trip. We flew into Quito, the capital, high in the mountains at over 10,000 feet elevation. I have to admit I was a little nervous about landing there–was I going to be gasping for breath? Turns out it was no problem. I did notice that walking up stairs was a little more difficult, though.

I just can’t stop talking about that cruise. I’m not an outdoorsy-type person. I’m not that into animals or birds. But that all went by the wayside when I experienced these islands.

Galapagos collage 2

Dolphins and tortoises during our Galapagos islands cruise!

It was exciting to have a dolphin swim right in front of our zodiac boat–so close you could almost reach out and touch it.

I couldn’t imagine a ‘blue footed booby’ but I saw these birds with the bluest feet!

And then there was the huge tortoise in the middle of the road–just sitting there–the bus driver had to slow down and go around it. We were on our way to a ranch where we saw at least a dozen of them scattered about the grounds.

We saw land iguanas, marine iguanas, sea lions, not to mention the birds…we even saw pelicans swoop down into the water and catch fish.

We were very surprised to see penguins! Yes, there were penguins on the rocks that we sailed past. And I thought they were only in Antarctica.

Galapagos Collage

Blue footed booby, penguin, land iguana, zodiac boat, Celebrity Xpedition cruise, pelican

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Military cruise benefit program

On August 10, 2013, in Cruise, Travel, by owentrvl

Military Benefit for Veterans and Active/Retired Personnel

parachute-74576_640To thank the brave men and women of the American and Canadian militaries for their service, Princess Cruises offers up to $250 free onboard spending money* for veterans as well as active, retired or disabled military personnel. This special military benefit is eligible on any cruise, any time of the year and can be used to purchase a wide variety of amenities and experiences including Lotus Spa treatments; dining in our specialty restaurants; gifts, jewelry and clothing in our onboard boutiques; and Princess Cruises shore excursions.

Military Benefits: Up to $250 Free Onboard Spending Money*

Cruise Length Amount
14 days or longer $250 per person
7 – 13 days $100 per person
6 days or less $50 per person


*Free onboard money is in the form of an onboard credit. The onboard credit is converted to the operational currency onboard the vessel and is applied to the folio of the veteran or active duty personnel’s stateroom.

Contact Margaret for more information about receiving this benefit on your next Princess Cruise.

In his latest article, Peter Greenberg describes the best ways to protect your valuables when you go to the airport. Keep in mind that smart thieves take indluggageividual items from your bags and they hope that you won’t notice until it is too late.

  1. Open your bag and take an inventory of everything in it – maybe even take a picture.
  2. Pack your valuables in your carry-on bag.
  3. If you cannot bring your valuables on board, consider using a shipping service which includes insurance and the ability to track your luggage.
  4. Choose luggage that is different from others and that does not look expensive.

I am a huge fan of Peter Greenberg for his expertise when it comes to travel. I highly recommend that you visit his website for great information.




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american-express-89024_640It seems like a good idea to pay in U.S. dollars when you travel abroad because you know exactly how much you will be paying.

However, according to an article in the Washington Post, there is a new cost associated with these transactions.

If you are given an option to pay in U.S. dollars instead of the local currency, you may be paying a hidden conversion fee called DCC, dynamic currency conversion.

Most credit card companies charge a fee when you make a purchase in a foreign currency. For example: you pay for a meal in Paris and use your credit card. When you get your credit card bill, it shows a charge of usually 1-3% for the currency conversion.

However, some credit cards don’t charge that conversion fee. So if you opt for paying in U.S. dollars, you might unknowingly be paying this DCC fee.

Here is a link to the complete article:

Just another ‘know before you go’ tip for you.

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Frequent Flyer Miles

On July 7, 2013, in Cruise, Tours, Travel, by owentrvl

Think you know everything about frequent flyer miles?

Watch this quick video for excellent tips that I have been saying for years when it comes to frequent flyer miles.

I love this video by Correspondent Alyssa Caverley from


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