Holiday Travel Tips

On November 15, 2014, in Cruise, Tours, Travel, by owentrvl

Tips for Traveling Over the Holidays

Holiday travel is around the corner, which can mean longer airport lines and larger crowds to navigate. Whether you’re traveling to visit family or taking a much needed 1024px-Munich_Airport_T2_L4_check_in_1vacation, these tips can help keep your travel plans running smoothly this holiday season:

Choose the right date. Sometimes the key to traveling during the holidays is knowing what days to avoid. The worst days are usually the weekends right before and after a holiday.1 The best days to travel? Try on the holiday itself, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Eve.

Travel early. Statistically speaking, early morning flights are more likely to be on-time.2 And, if your flight is cancelled you have the option of taking a flight later in the day. You might also be able to avoid some of the travel crowds with an early flight.

Book early and save money. Traveling over the holidays but not psyched about spending a ton of money on airfare? The old adage “the early bird gets the worm” holds true for flight booking. It’s best to book at least a month or more in advance of your expected departure date if you want to get the best deals. Web sites like will watch to see if your fare price drops after you purchase it – and may be able to help you to get a refund for the difference.

Fly nonstop. Some of the worst travel delays happen in connecting flight airports. With no friends or family to retreat to it can make a travel delay feel like a travel disaster. Try to avoid this scenario by choosing nonstop flights to your destination. If you do find yourself delayed, Travel Guard’s 24/7 assistance can help you rebook your flight and get you quickly on your way.

Ship gifts ahead of time. If you’re like most people you’re not looking forward to airport security carefully scrutinizing each gift you packed in your suitcase. Eliminate the hassle of traveling with gifts by shipping them ahead of time. You can also do your holiday shopping online and have each item delivered to your final destination.

Don’t wrap gifts. If you do plan to take some gifts with you, be sure to wait and wrap them at your destination. While wrapped gifts aren’t prohibited, TSA agents may have to unwrap a gift to take a closer look inside. The TSA provides more information on holiday food and gifts that can be brought onboard flights.

Inhale and exhale. It can be easy to get overwhelmed while traveling. Add in the stress of a holiday and it’s even easier. When things start to feel out of control take a deep breath and remember many of your fellow travelers are trying to get home to see loved ones too.

Pack travel insurance. Traveling over the holidays often feels chaotic. It can be nice to know someone will always be there to help with your travel related needs no matter what time of the day or night. With a Travel Guard travel insurance plan you’ll have access to 24/7 assistance services that can go to work on your behalf rebooking flights and hotels, finding lost luggage, and more. Plus a travel insurance plan can cover you for things like travel delays due to inclement weather, trip cancellation/interruption and medical expenses so that you may book your vacation with confidence. To find out more simply ask your travel agent, call 800.851.0048 or visit




Ruby Princess cruise – Day 2

On November 9, 2014, in Cruise, by owentrvl


Day 2 began with arrival in St. Peter Port on Guernsey Island, 80 miles south of England. It is famous for the cow named after the region.

Known as Lisia by the Romans, the Vikings renamed the island to Guernsey which means ‘Corner Island.’ During World War II, it was heavily fortified for no particular reason by Adolph Hitler.

Victor Hugo lived here in exile for 15 years at the Hauteville House with his wife, Adele, and four children. Both Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame were written here.

Around 1716, Sir Edmund Andros constructed the facade of Sausmarez Manor which was originally built about 900 years ago. Not only that, but he was Lt. Governor of Guernsey. In addition, Andros was Governor, at various times, of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia and North Carolina.

It was Sir Edmund who changed the name of New Amsterdam to New York when he was the first British Governor.

The milk of the fabled Guernsey cow is golden and regarded as the world’s healthiest and most delicious. It has an unusual amount of beta-carotene. The breed was started around 1700. Every year, locals stage the Guernsey Cow Parade.

British Isles cruise 6-2014 023  Guernsey street British Isles cruise 6-2014 030 Colorful building in Guernsey


Travel and Germs

On September 20, 2014, in Cruise, Travel, by owentrvl



“Travel and Germs”

Although this article says ‘Business Travel’, I believe it applies to any travel and is very good information.

Business Travel – Maintaining Good Hygiene on the RoadDisinfecting_Wipes_Illustration

There’s no question that business travel exposes road warriors to a wider, perhaps more exotic array of germs and viruses. One study by the Journal of Environmental Health Research found that a five-hour flight may increase the chance that you’ll catch a cold by more by more than 100 percent. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to give yourself some protection.

First, pack some disinfectant wipes in your carry-on bag. Airline cleaning crews go through the cabin before you board, but time constraints mean they may not be able to wipe down every surface.
As soon as you sit down, use a wipe to clean your armrests, tray table and other items around you. Then, open your air vent and direct a gentle air flow just in front of your face to help dissipate germs.

If you use the airplane’s restrooms, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you leave. Just in case the soap is used up, be sure to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag. Don’t forget that it should be in a three ounce or less bottle that you can include with your other carry-on liquids and gels.

When you reach your hotel, your disinfecting wipes will come in handy again. There are many surfaces in a hotel room – door knobs, light switches, drinking glasses, remote controls, heating and air conditioning controls, to name a few – that get heavy use but may not be routinely cleaned. Take a few minutes to wipe these surfaces.

If your room’s towels and linens don’t seem to be freshly laundered, don’t hesitate to ask for replacements. If you find tiny red, brown or black stains on your bedding, that’s a sign of bedbugs. In that case, ask to change rooms (or hotels).

While you don’t want to appear so concerned about germs that you offend anyone – for example, you wouldn’t want to wipe down a coffee cup handed to you by your host at a business meeting – a little self-protection can be helpful. Remember that the price of your hotel or the class of your airline seat doesn’t matter – essentially, they are only as hygienic as the last person who used them.



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Ruby Princess cruise – Day 1

On September 8, 2014, in Cruise, Travel, by owentrvl

So it’s embarkation day for our 12 night cruise on the Ruby Princess to ports around the British Isles. We checked out of our hotel and took a taxi to Victoria Coach Station about 15 minutes away. It was raining but I was prepared with umbrella in hand.

Upon arrival at the bus station, we encountered a long line of optimistic cruisers. We worked our way up to the front of the line where a cruise line rep accepted our luggage which was loaded on separate trucks for transport to the cruise pier. Then we waited for our turn to board the bus. It was about a two-hour ride to Southampton on England’s southern coast.

We checked in and received our boarding card/room key and before long we were in our room. Although it was an interior room without a window, it was quite comfortable. I really liked the layout which included a ‘walk-in’ closet area that separated the bathroom from the bed area.Ruby Princess - closet area

Interior Stateroom

If you haven’t experienced a cruise yet, here is a video that shows the different types of rooms and amenities on the Ruby Princess:

Our room steward came by and introduced himself then we were off to explore our home for the next 12 days. At 4:30pm we had an emergency drill and then I went to see the acupuncturist for a free evaluation.

After dinner in the ‘anytime’ dining room we went to the first of daily shows: Welcome Aboard Showtime featuring the Ruby Princess Dancers & Comedian George Casey–we enjoyed the show.

That’s it–checked email in the internet center and day 1 is done.

Contact Margaret now for more information about your cruise.

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British Isles cruise ports

On August 16, 2014, in Cruise, by owentrvl

Here are short descriptions of the ports we visited during our recent British Isles cruise.

Southampton, EnglandPrincess cruise itinerary

The south of England boasts a dramatic coastline that encloses some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. The landscape of hills and heaths, downs and forests, valleys and dales, is without rival. Southampton serves as your gateway to the countryside – and to a wide variety of historic sites, national landmarks and charming. And of course, London is a two-hour drive by modern highway.

The United Kingdom’s premier passenger ship port, Southampton was home for many years to the great transatlantic liners of yesteryear.

St. Peter Port, Channel Island

The British isle of Guernsey lies just eight miles off the coast of France. The second largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey possesses a mild climate, breathtaking scenery and a peaceful, unspoiled ambience. All these attributes combine to make it a popular destination for British and French vacationers. Once the haunt of sea dogs and pirates, St. Peter Port is one of the prettiest harbors in Europe.

Castles and forts dot the Guernsey coastline, including German fortifications from World War II. The Channel Islands were the only part of the United Kingdom to be occupied by the Nazis.

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As a reminder, we were in London for our British Isles cruise which began the next day and we were on a tour of Oxford, the Cotswolds, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick Castle. Intro Part 1 was about the first half of our tour–here is the second half.

In Stratford-Upon-Avon we visited the birthplace of William Shakespeare. He was born in the house around the 26th of April, 1564 and believed to have lived there to at least age 18.

In 1601 he inherited the house from his father and it became an inn. He died in 1616 and left the property to his daughter Susanna Hall. Family ownership continued until the late 18th century.

The house fell into decay until 1846 when there was a national campaign to buy the house for the nation in 1847. It was ‘restored’ in the 1860s in which many of the original internal structures, such as the hearths and rear window positions, remain intact.

  • Exterior
  • Exterior 1
  • Exterior 2
  • Fireplace
  • Dining room

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I have been waiting for a few years and finally found a cruise to the British Isles.

We started by flying from Oakland to Las Vegas where we connected with Virgin Atlantic’s nonstop flight to London-Gatwick airport. We pre-booked a shared transfer so we were met by a driver who took us (along with another couple) to our hotel Ibis London Euston St. Pancras for our two-night stay.  Since it is located only a half block from an underground station, it was a good place to stay. The room was a bit small–typical for European hotels–but it was clean and included free internet. It was fine for a rather budget hotel.

Zizzi Italian Restaurant

Zizzi Italian Restaurant

After a short nap and catching up on emails, we walked just under a mile to Zizzi Italian Restaurant.

We are not adventurous when it comes to dining so it was an easy choice since we ate at a Zizzi restaurant on our previous visit to London and knew the food would be good.

Since we had been to London before and already took the hop-on, hop-off tour, the next morning we took a taxi to Victoria Coach Station to take the Oxford, Cotswolds, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick Castle tour which we had pre-booked. Victoria Station is rather crowded and the gates surround a courtyard area where the buses arrive and depart.

Our tour guide explained that although Oxford is a wonderful town, their bathrooms are not. So we stopped at a popular place for a bathroom break and optional souvenir shopping.

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a unique and historic institution. There is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.

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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!