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Royal Caribbean New Ad Campaign A Real “Dud”

Posted by thetraveldoctor on December 13, 2008


 

At Sea on Royal Caribbean

At Sea on Royal Caribbean

You have probably seen the new Royal Caribbean commercial called the “Nation of Why Not?”  This is the new ad campaign for Royal Caribbean. I cannot tell you that who ever came up with this campaign should be FIRED! What a DUD! It is so bad that I have to change the channel every time it comes up on my TV. It looks like a really bad Magic Kingdom commercial. If this what Royal Caribbean thinks will get people to sail on their ships, well they have another thing coming. 

The past campaign was “Get Out There!” Now that was a great campaign as it showed that you could do anything on a cruise vacation. A real upbeat campaign. It made you say “That looks like FUN!” 

But now the powers that be have come up with this terrible campaign that is driving people away from the brand. My advise to Royal Caribbean, dump this campaign and regroup and come up with something GOOD! After 37 years in the travel industry, I think I know what I am talking about.

Posted in airplane, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, disabilities, Europe, first class, investments, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

A Tale of Two American Airline’s Cities

Posted by thetraveldoctor on November 17, 2008


 

New American Terminal at Miami Airport

New American Terminal at Miami Airport

I am writing this on my way home from a conference in Miami FL. I am sitting in seat 28C on an American Airlines 757. I don’t know why, but American can’t seem to give me two problem free flights in a row. 

Let’s start on Saturday morning at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. I had a 9AM flight to Miami. I arrived at O’Hare at 7:20AM. I walked up to the self-service kiosk, checked my bag (for $15 –Ouch!) and was on my way to the gate. The American employees we very helpful and very pleasant.

I made it through security. Let me tell you, that is always an experience. I was behind a family of 3. They had 3 suitcases, 3 carry-on bags, a stroller and various stuff in their pockets. Well, it took them 10 minutes to get every thing on the belt and get it into the scanner. Then of course they could not get through the metal detector. They must have gone through that detector 10 times until they stopped beeping. It was a comedy of errors. I had to laugh or I would have started to cry. They need to bring the “Family Lane” to O’Hare so that people that travel a lot and know how to go through security can avoid these situations.

So I made it through security, finally! I proceed to the gate and waited to board. The boarding process went smooth, even with a full plane and we were off to Miami on time! Wow, what a great flight. I really enjoyed it, all the on board entertainment worked very well, and the seat reclined too, as little as it reclines, it’s still nice when it works. We arrived at Miami 10 minutes early and I was a happy customer. Now remember, I check my bag. I guess that was a mistake. I waited almost 40 minutes for my bag and my bag was one of the first ones to come around the belt. I guess this should have been my first clue that American at the Miami Airport has some major operational problems. I took my bag and I was off to the Hyatt Regency Miami in a cab. I actually got a cab driver that knew where he was going and got me to the hotel in record time.

It was a great weekend conference. I had hundreds of people at my workshop and panel. It was a really wonderful experience.

So it is now 5:30AM on Monday and I am on my way to the Miami Airport for my return flight home. I arrive at the American Airlines terminal and proceed to the self-service check-in. As easy as it was at O’Hare on Saturday, it was that very difficult in Miami. I had already checked in on my computer at the hotel and I had my boarding pass. So I followed the directions on the self check-in machine and I touched “Bag Check Only.” I am good at following directions. It then told me to scan my boarding pass or put in my record locator number. Well, my boarding pass would not scan, so I entered my record locator number. It took it a while but it found me. It asked me how many bags I wanted to check and I pressed 1. It then asked me for my credit card. I inserted my Amex, it didn’t like that one, it said, “Enter another Credit Card” so I entered my Visa. I guess it liked that magnetic strip, and it charged my credit card. It then told me to go to the “Checked Baggage Only” line. And then it printed another boarding pass for me. Why I don’t know. So there are signs all over that state “Look For The Baggage Only Check-in Line.” That’s great, I am looking all over the place for this Baggage line and I can’t find it. I ask one of the AA employees, where is this Baggage Only line for self-serve? She informs me that I should just get in any line, we don’t have a Baggage Only line. Now mind you, I am standing in front of this sign that is telling people to look for this Baggage Only line and this employee is telling me they don’t have a Baggage Only line. So I get in line and I wait 20 minutes to hand my bag to an agent and it is 6AM! Once I get to the agent, she could not print out my luggage tracking tag that I had already put in all the info in the check-in kiosk. Unlike the Chicago Check-in kiosk where your luggage tags are printed out at the front of the bank of kiosks. So it took 30 minutes for me to check in at a very disorganized Miami Check-in area for American. Then you have to lug your bag over to this area where another employee takes your bag. And this is out of the way. They really have to figure this baggage thing out in Miami.

Now it’s off to the security. I figured, 630AM on a Monday morning, how bad could it be. I came around the corner and noticed that the line was not that long. So that was a good sign. Little did I know that the TSA agent that was checking ID’s thought he was Columbo and was interrogating every passenger that had to pass through his post. This short line that should have been no more than 5 minutes turned into another 20-minute ordeal.

Once I got through security, and yes I was behind another family that had at least 120 pieces of stuff to put thought the belt. How do I get so lucky! All I want to do is check in, go through security and get on my airplane. Is that too much to ask?

I now hike to the new gate area at the Miami Airport. American has opened part of their new terminal. It is really very nice, but the hike to the last gate, well, it’s a REAL hike. And there are no moving sidewalks like some other new airports with long walks have. But I make it to the gate with about 35 minutes to spare. I find a nice spot to settle in to wait for boarding. Now I understand how AA wants to board. You have a group and you are to board by group. Well, it kind of didn’t happen, as the agents lost control of the entire boarding process, which in turn backed everything up. It was like watching a keystone cop movie. Instead of having each group board, they boarded the early boards and then they called group 1, then 2 minutes later they called group 1, 2 and 3. And this is on a FULL 757! On the plane, there was not enough space for the deluge of carryon bags that the $15 bag charge has caused. People standing in the aisles shoving these bags that should have never gotten past the gate agent, trying to cram them into the overhead bins. Well, we did leave 8 minutes late, because no one that was in the aisle would sit down. What a nut house!

So we finally get settled and the plane gets pushed back, taxied and we took off.  The crew was friendly and efficient, but the audio system had this terrible buzz that it was very hard to watch the video. After about 15 minutes of the buzz, it started to fade, so I was able to watch the “CBS eye on American” video entertainment on the video screen. They showed 3 sitcoms. “How I Met Your Mother” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “The Big Band Theory.” Now these are prime time family sitcoms right? Well, I guess American doesn’t think so. Get this, they were bleeping out 25% of the dialog. It ruined the video. I was able to read lips at times and the words they were bleeping out were, sex, screwed and full sentences. Folks, these are not programs that are on pay per view, these are prime time network sitcoms. I just don’t get it. Why would they censor these programs? It really ticked me off. I think that American needs to chill out or stop airing video on its aircraft.

 The flight itself was comfortable and the plane was clean. But if you have to fly out of Miami on American, beware! They don’t have their act together like they do at Chicago O’Hare and it could be very frustrating.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, Business Class, Coach, economy, Europe, first class, Hotels, Las Vegas, luggage, Mexico, news, pillows, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Royal Caribbean Creates “Youth Zone” On Oasis

Posted by thetraveldoctor on November 8, 2008


 

Oasis of The Sea

Oasis of The Sea

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line will introduce the “Youth Zone” on it newest ship, The Oasis Of The Sea debuting December 12, 2009. The Youth Zone will be one of the 7 “Neighborhoods” on the ship. The Youth Zone will include, Kids Avenue and Central Boulvard which will connect various themed play areas. And Adventure Ocean Theater, a theater just for kids. Plus a first for Royal Caribbean a Nursery for infants at least 6 months old and toddlers.

The Oasis of The Seas is going to be the World’s Largest Cruise Ship at 220,000 GRT and will carry 5400 passengers.

Posted in airlines, airplane, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, Business Class, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, Europe, islands, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, Transportation, Travel, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

American Airlines to buy up to 100 Boeing 787’s

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 28, 2008


 

787 Dreamliner

787 Dreamliner

American Airlines announced this past week that they plan on purchasing up to 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners at a cost of $15 billion dollars. This purchase could make American the largest operator of the new Boeing aircraft.

 

“This state-of-the-art aircraft will offer many cost and environmental benefits, particularly fuel efficiency and customer friendly attributes and comforts” said Thomas Horton, executive vice president and CFO during the airlines October 15 conference call with financial analysts.

American plans to buy 42 of the 787 Dreamliners for delivery between 2012 and 2018, with an option for 58 more for delivery between 2015 and 2020.

The first 787 flight was scheduled for August of 2007, with deliveries to begin in May of 2008. But due to delays and a strike at Boeing, the first flight is now planned for the fourth quarter of 2008 and initial deliveries slated for the third quarter of 2009.

The new 787-9 is designed to carry up to 290 passengers, with at range of up to 8,500 nautical mailes. The 787-9 is a stretch version of the 787-8 and will use 20% less fuel then current aircraft flying today.

These are some of the airlines that have ordered the 787 Dreamliner. 

  1. Qantas – 65 planes
  2. All Nippon Airways – 50 planes
  3. Air Canada – 37 planes
  4. Japan Airlines – 35 planes
  5. Etihad Airways – 35 planes
  6. LAN Airlines – 26 planes
  7. Continental – 25 planes
  8. Aeroflot – 22 planes

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, caribbean, Coach, disabilities, economy, first class, gas, investments, luggage, Mexico, news, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Holiday Inn Toronto to become Hyatt Regency

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 25, 2008


 

The old Holiday Inn & new Hyatt Regency

The old Holiday Inn & new Hyatt Regency

The Hyatt corporation is taking over the management of the former Holiday Inn downtown Toronto. The hotel will now be known as the Hyatt Regency Toronto. The hotel is located on King Street in downtown Toronto. The hotel will be closed and renovated before being reopened in January of 2009. This will be the second Hyatt in the city. The current hotel operated by Hyatt is the Park Hyatt. 

 

So if you are a fan of the Hyatt chain, you will soon have a second hotel in downtown Toronto to chose from.

Posted in airlines, airports, bags, disabilities, first class, Hotels, luggage, news, pillows, seniors, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Deuce Bus Las Vegas – Revisited….Or do you Call it The Duce?

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 20, 2008


 

The Deuce on Las Vegas Ave

The Deuce on Las Vegas Blvd

 

The Deuce Logo on the side of the Bus

The Deuce Logo on the side of the Bus

I just returned from my latest trip to Las Vegas and I want to give everyone an update on the great “Deuce Bus” on the Las Vegas Strip. The Duce Bus is the double decker bus that travels up and down the Las Vegas Strip 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is run by CAT, the Citizen Area Transit. The Deuce route begins at the Fremont Street Station downtown and ends at the south end of the strip at the South Strip Transfer Terminal which is on the south side of McCarran International Airport. 

I love this bus. It is easy to use and the buses are brand new! You want to make your way up to the second floor and try to get one of the front seats. This is a great way to see the Las Vegas Strip. The bus makes frequent stops along the strip and you can get to any of the Strip Hotels with the Deuce. The bus also is handicap accessible. So if you have a wheel chair, you can ride the Deuce without a problem.

The one way fare is $2 per ride or save money and buy the 24 hour unlimited ride pass for $5. You can ride all day for $5. The best deal for getting around Las Vegas. You can also use the pass on the other public buses in and around Las Vegas. You will need exact change or you can buy your passes at vending machines along the Deuce Bus route. The machines take cash or credit/debit cards.

UPDATE 5-8-09: There has been a fare increase for the Deuce. The new fare is now $3 one way or $7 for a 24 hour all access unlimited ride pass. They have also added a new pass, a 3 day all access unlimited ride pass for $15. These 3 day passes are only available at the vending machines and not on the bus itself.

I took some great pictures of the Deuce Bus so you can all get a good idea of what this service is all about. So the next time you are in Las Vegas, give the Deuce Bus a try. You will Love it!

 

Second Floor on The Deuce Bus Las Vegas

Second Floor on The Deuce Bus Las Vegas

Posted in airlines, airports, bus, car, Coach, deuce bus, Deuce Bus Las Vegas, disabilities, duce, Hotels, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip, luggage, news, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of The Seas – A day at The Panama Canal

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 8, 2008


 

One of the Mules that Pulls the ship through the Locks

One of the Mules that Pulls the ship through the Locks

Alan at the Midpoint at the Gatun Locks

Alan at the Midpoint at the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas exiting the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas exiting the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas at anchor in Lake Gatun

The Brilliance of The Seas at anchor in Lake Gatun

Approach to the Gatun Locks

Approach to the Gatun Locks

 This past January my wife and I took a fascinating cruise thru the Panama Canal on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of The Seas. This is a wonderful ship and a great cruise for anyone that loves cruising. The day we began to  transit the canal started early in the morning just before sunrise. Our pilot arrived at our ship as the sun broke the horizon. We then picked up our two tug boats that would help our ship into the locks.  The total transit took about 3 hours. The pictures below are my “Photo Blog” of our experience through the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean side of the canal.

If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.

If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.

Posted in Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, Europe, gas, islands, luggage, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, pillows, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Travel Agents, Worth their weight in GOLD!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 6, 2008


 

Alan On Tour In The Pacific Northwest.

Alan On Tour In The Pacific Northwest.

Have you tried to make any travel plans lately? If you have, you probably have searched and searched the web till your head was spinning. What you need to do is find a good professional consultant. A good travel consultant can find you deals that are not available on the web and can save you hundreds of dollars on cruises and tours. They can also give you great advice for your trip, such as little known places to visit at your destination. 

There has been lots of talk as of late that Travel Agents are a dying breed. Not so, they are not only alive and kicking, but more and more travelers are turing to them for help in booking their vacation travel. So a tip to the savvy traveler or the novice traveler, use a travel agent and save lots of time and money!

Posted in airlines, airports, auto, bags, Business Class, cancun, caribbean, Coach, cruise line, cruises, economy, Europe, first class, gas, Hotels, investments, islands, Las Vegas, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, pillows, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Airlines Are Charging Extra For Today

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 5, 2008


 

O'Hare Airport on a typical day

O'Hare Airport on a typical day

Here is a rundown of what airlines are charging extra for. They have raised their fares and now they charge you extra for more and more things that use to be free.

US Airways  Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, Advanced “Prime” Seats, Soft drinks on Board, Pollows & Blankets and Headsets.

United Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, and Advanced “Prime” Seats.

Northwest Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, Advanced “Prime” Seats, and headsets.

Continental Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, and headsets.

Delta Airlines Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag.

American Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag and 2nd Checked Bag.

JetBlue Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag, Advanced “Prime” Seats, Pollows & Blankets and Headsets.

AirTran Charges extra for:  2nd Checked Bag, and Advanced “Prime” Seats.

Frontier Airlines Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag.

Alaska Airlines Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag. 

US Airways wins the award for the most additional fees charged. I guess that is why in 2007 US Airways was ranked dead last as the worst airline for customer service by consumer reports.

Also in 2007, the Today/Zagat Airline Survey rated US Airways as the worst airline overall in the United States, ranking it 10/30 for comfort, 5/30 for food, 10/30 for service, and 15/30 for its online reservations system. On August 1, 2008, US Airways ceased providing their passengers with free drinks, including water. Passengers must now purchase bottled water or soda for $2 US, or $1 US for coffee and tea.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, Coach, disabilities, economy, first class, Las Vegas, luggage, Med, news, pillows, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Carnival Cruise Line to Rework Three Ships with More Balconies

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 3, 2008


 

The Theater on the Carnival Liberty

The Theater on the Carnival Liberty

Carnival Cruise Lines announced that they will be taking 3 ships out of service over the next three months to add cabins with balconies. The three ships are the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and the Carnival Liberty.  A total of 48 balcony cabins will be added to these ships. These cabins will feature floor to ceiling windows.

 

Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive Vice President stated that “Balcony staterooms continue to be in great demand. In fact, they’re often the first cabin category to sell out.” 

Carnival will also add two, 750 square foot “deluxe penthouse suites,” to the Carnival Liberty. These two penthouse suites have a separate bedroom, living room and two full baths and can accommodate up to five passengers.

I am looking forward to these upgrades to these great Carnival Ships.

Posted in airlines, Art Auctions at Sea, bags, cancun, caribbean, Computers, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, economy, Europe, first class, Hotels, islands, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, pillows, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »