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Is the Allure of The Seas A Clone of Oasis of The Seas?

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 19, 2010


Central Park on Allure Of The Seas

Central Park on Allure Of The Seas from the interior Staterooms

The Allure of The Seas is due to set sail on its maiden voyage on December 1, 2010. This inaugural cruise is billed as a “4 Night Labadee Extravaganza” cruise. This cruise will include 2 days at sea and a day at Labadee Haiti, Royal Caribbean’s beach port.

The Allure of The Seas will make Fort Lauderdale Florida at Port Everglades its home. But the question on everyones mind is this. Is the Allure a carbon copy of the Oasis Of The Seas? Well, looking at the two ships brochures, you find that the layout of both ships are identical. But the Allure will be different in its Boardwalk neighborhood. Instead of the Seafood Shack, the Allure’s Boardwalk will have a Mexican restaurant, Rita’s Cantina. A specialty hot dog counter called the Boardwalk Dog House, will be located where the doughnut shop is on the Oasis. So where is the popular doughnut shop on the Allure going to be? Well, it is next to the premium ice cream shop. I have no idea where the ice cream shop is, but that’s ok. I am getting confused now.

There is going to be a first in shopping on the Allure as “Guess” clothing opens up it’s first Clothing Store at Sea! Guess will be located on the Royal Promenade, where the Focus photo store is on the Oasis and the Focus Photo Store will move to the new photo gallery area on the Allure. Are you throughly confused now? Don’t be. If you have sailed on the Oasis then you will be able to navigate your way around the Allure without much trouble.

So is the Allure Of The Seas a Clone of the Oasis Of The Seas? I will leave that up to you, the passengers to tell me.

Posted in Allure Of The Seas, art, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, economy, Europe, first class, food, free, Haiti, Hotels, islands, luggage, Mexico, Oasis of the Seas, Panama Canal, restaurant, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Voyager of The Seas, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

SDX Express beats the Deuce Bus on The Las Vegas Strip!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on May 3, 2010


Ace Gold Bus

SDX Express Bus On Las Vegas Blvd

The SDX Express is the latest in public transportation in the City of Las Vegas. This Express bus, that really looks and acts more like a train is a great addition to the Vegas scene.

So what is the SDX Express anyway? Well, the SDX Express is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route that provides convenient, limited stops and frequent service on Las Vegas Boulevard in the Resort Corridor between the South Strip Transfer Terminal (SSTT) to the South and the Clark County Government Center/Las Vegas Premium Outlets/Symphony Park area to the North.

So this new term BRT or Bus Rapid Transit, what is it? Well Bus Rapid Transit combines the quality of rail transit with the flexibility of a regular bus service. BRT provides enhanced rapid transit service by using bus only traffic lanes, limited stops, off-board fare collection and level boarding stations. That means that you cannot pay your fare on the bus. You must purchase your ticket at the stop/station. These stations have automated  fare vending machines. This makes boarding faster as people can board without having to pay a fare at the entrance of the bus. This is the way transit trains work. You can board more passengers in a shorter amount of time.

This new service is a great way to get up and down the Las Vegas Strip quickly. But remember, this is a limited stop service. So you have to plan your route in advance so you know where you can get on and get off.

I tried the SDX Express service this past April and I was really impressed. The boarding moved much faster then the Deuce Bus due to the fact that you just get on and hold up your fare card to the “Conductor” at the door. That’s right, there is a conductor on this bus, just like on a train. The motorman is in an enclosed cabin and this person drives the ACE.

The prices are the same as the Deuce Bus, $6 for 2 hours pass, $8 for a 24 hour pass, or $20 for a 3 day pass. And you can use your fare card on the Deuce Bus or the SDX Express. So the next time you are in Las Vegas, give the SDX Express a try!

Below is the route map of the SDX Express.

sdx

 

Posted in Ace Gold Line, airports, Coach, deuce bus, Deuce Bus Las Vegas, duce, economy, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip, luggage, tickets, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Voyager of The Seas Cruise – Not the Oasis of The Seas but still Great!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on May 1, 2010


Voyager of The Seas in Cozumel

Voyager of The Seas in Cozumel

This is the Journal of my 7 night cruise aboard the Voyager of The Seas of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. We departed from the Port of Galveston TX on January 24, 2010. This was a family cruise which included my wife and I and my Daughter and Son-in-Law and my Son and his girl friend. We arrived in Galveston on January 23 and stayed at the Hilton Galveston Resort for the evening. The Hilton is an upscale hotel situated right on the water in Galveston next to the Convention Center.

Day 1 – Embarkation Galveston TX: January 24, 2010. We arrived on the Hilton Shuttle at the Port of Galveston at 1130AM. Getting a porter to take our luggage was a little challenging but we were able to find one and he took all of our luggage and we continued to the Checking area.

Upon entering the checkin area, we were given a form that asked if you have been sick in the past 7 days. The cruise line wants to cut down of the chance of a flu outbreak on the ship and that is why they have you fill out the form. I don’t know what they would do to you if you answered yes to any of the questions, and I did not want to find out!

We continued through the security check point, which was just like the airport security with xray machines for your bags and the walk through metal detectors for the passengers. Since we were Diamond Plus Members (24 or more cruises with Royal Caribbean) We were able to use the special express check in line. We were able to check in immediately and we then began to wander around the terminal. No one told us that Diamond Members and Suite passengers could board immediately. We found this out after I stopped a Royal Caribbean staff member after we wandered around for a while and found some chairs to sit down. The staff member said to me “didn’t the person checking you in tell you that you could just board the ship now? I said “No” and he showed me where to go to board. So we gathered up our carry ons and proceeded to board the ship. Once on board, we found that the cabins would be available until 1PM. So we all headed to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch.

Shops on Voyager

Shops on Voyager

The Windjammer is a buffet style restaurant located on deck 12, aft. They have a large selection of food for just about every taste. Since we are a party of 6 on this cruise, we were able to find a large table near the window and settled down for a very nice lunch. We finished lunch at 1:15PM and proceeded to our staterooms. We are on deck 9 midship. Our staterooms had queen size beds with a private balcony, which is very nice on sea days to be able to just sit there and enjoy the sun and surf. Since the Voyager is now 11 years old, it has undergone a major refurbishment in 2009. So the ship looks very good for it’s age. I remember the inaugural cruise which I was on 11 years ago. This ship, at that time was the worlds largest cruise ship. Today Voyager is considered a large ship but nowhere near the largest ship anymore.

We are on Second Seating on the traditional dinning track, so we eat dinner at 8PM. Royal Caribbean now has what they call “Any Time Dinning” which let’s you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner any time you like. Dinner for anytime dinning begins at 545PM and ends at 830PM on this ship. I personally like the traditional dinning where you sit at the same table every night and have the same wait staff the entire cruise. I must say that I was not impressed with the dinning room service this first night. Our waiter just did not have his act together and it took forever to get our food. And to make things even worse, they forgot to bring my daughter her soup and our waiter did not introduce himself to us until we were ready to leave the dinning room after the meal. The dinner itself was very good and the presentation was very nice.

After dinner we went to the “Welcome Aboard Show.” Since there was only one show tonight, we had a very hard time finding seats. But we finally found seat and settled down to enjoy the show. Our cruise director, Mike Szwajkowski introduced the weeks events and played a very old cruise game that I have not seen done at sea for a very long time. It was the “Hat Game” where 7 men are chosen from the audience. They are given 6 hats and when the music stops, anyone now wearing a hat is out! Well, it is extremely funny and every one had a great laugh. Next they had two acts that will be preforming in two of the lounges on the ship during the week. Both acts were very good and I will be sure to stop by the lounges they will be playing in this week. Mike then introduced the comedy of Hal Spear. Hal is the producer of “Who’s Line is it Anyways” and has appeared on Comedy Central and The Tonight Show. He was extremely funny. He will be doing an adult late show on Tuesday night at 11:30PM and I will be there!

After the show, I spent about an hour making my donation to the Royal Caribbean Casino and then headed to bed.

Day 2 – At Sea: Monday January 25, 2010. The sun is out and not a cloud in the sky! I woke up at 8AM to get ready for our Diamond Member special event. The special event was our personal bridge tour of the Voyager. We met the crew members that would escort us to the bridge at 8:50AM on Deck 10 at the forward elevators. We were escorted to the bridge where we had a wonderful tour of the High Tech Bridge. This tour is very special and we really appreciate the fact that Royal Caribbean gives Diamond Plus members the chance to take this tour.

After the Bridge tour I was off to breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe where I had a wonderful breakfast as I watched the ships pass us by in the distance. After breakfast it was off to the Cleopatra’s Needle lounge for Cruise Director Mike’s Madness Trivia hour. The first part of the trivia game was TV theme show songs, which I am an expert at. Yes, I know, I have to get a life! But the second half was just way out there really off the wall trivia questions. So my team won the TV theme show half, but we lost the second half. But I did keep my record as the only person in the room that knew two of the TV themes.

After Trivia, it was time to explore the ship and find out what has changed on this ship since my last time onboard. I always enjoy exploring the ship and finding great hiding places to just get away from it all. Royal Caribbean did take out all the chairs along the windows on the pool deck and replaced them with round tables with 4 chairs per table. I personally think they should have kept some chairs along the windows and alternated with two tables and then 6 chairs. I feel this would be a better use of the space as the tables are only used during meal time and even then they are not fully utilized.

At 1PM it was time for lunch. My daughter and Son in Law joined my wife and I for a very leisurely lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. I had the Pasta in red sauce with some veggies and a small salad. It was a very relaxing lunch and I enjoyed it throughly! After lunch I relaxed at the pool for a little while and then proceeded to the Schooner Bar for 50’s & 60’s Name that Tune game. My Daughter, Son in Law and I were a team to take on about 20 other teams. We did pretty well, with 19 points we came in 5 overall. Not to bad for 3 people who did really not know what they were doing!

Life Raft Rescue

Life Raft Rescue

Later in the after noon, we felt the ship make a sharp turn and head back north. The turn was so sharp that the pool emptied out onto the deck. The Captain came on the loud speaker and told us that he had to turn the ship around because the crew had spotted a life raft in the water. So we were on a rescue mission to retrieve the life raft in the water. We pull up along side of the raft and we launched a rescue boat to go and get  the life raft. The entire ship was along the rails on the Port Side to watch the rescue effort. When the rescue boat got to the raft, it found no passenger aboard. They then towed the life raft back to our ship and brought it on board. We don’t know if there were any people that were in the raft at one time but we do know the the raft and a smaller life raft that was attached to the big round one had flipped over. It was were interesting to watch a real rescue effort at sea.

Tonight is formal night and it’s time to down the Tux and get those special pictures taken!

We did get our pictures taken and Lil always blinks! We all really looked good tonight. There was a not so nice incident that happened in the Concierge Club. Lil and I are Diamond Plus members (24 or more Cruises) and we have access to the Concierge Club. My Daughter and Son in Law wanted to relax in the Club before dinner. I gave them my entrance card and they went in. The Concierge in charge then proceeded to tell them they were not welcome and threw them out! Wow, how rude! I take my family on this cruise, spend all this money and the Concierge has the nerve to throw them out of the Club. My kids are 26 and 30 years old! I just don’t get it. Nice way to piss off your best customers.

We did have a very nice dinner. The food was very good but the wait staff still does not have their act together. Our waiter gives everyone a menu except me and then when I finally track him down and ask for a menu, he looks at me and says “Didn’t I just give you one?” Well, I don’t have one so I guess not. It is still taking them over two hours to serve us our meal. Maybe by the end of the cruise they will get it right! We did celebrate my Son and Son-in-Laws 30th birthdays this evening. The wait staff did get the Birthday Cake correct! Thank goodness for that.

The entertainment for the evening was a very good production show in the main show lounge. Music in Motion was the name of the show and it followed music from the movies over the years. Good dancing and singing and a fun evening.

After the show I spent some time with the family in the Cleopatra’s Needle lounge listening to Karaoke, which my Son was one of the participants.  I then headed back to the cabin to turn in for the evening.

Day 3 – At Sea: Tuesday January 26, 2010. Well, it is getting warmer the farther we get into the Caribbean. I got up at 8AM and had a great breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe. After breakfast, I did some shopping in the shops on board. Then it was on to the La Scala Theater for a very interesting hour with our cruise director Mike about living and working on a cruise ship. It was a real learning experience and a glimpse behind the scenes of the day to day operations of a large cruise ship. After Mikes talk, I decided to hang out around the sports deck and ended up shooting some baskets on the basketball court.

Lunch in the Windjammer Cafe is always a pleasant experience. The nice part about it is the selection of food. Since it is buffet style, you have a large choice of items that fit just about everyones tastes. I love the pasta and there is pasta every day. So after a nice leisurely lunch I decided to spend some time just exploring the ship. I love the water slide on the kids deck in the aft of the ship. It starts out on deck 13 and winds its way down to deck 12. It’s great for kids of all ages.

Royal Caribbean has decided to offer WiFi on their ships. Now you have to pay for the privilege of using it, but thats ok, if it worked. Dozens of people are trying to get on the internet and they just keep timing out. It is the slowest service I have ever seen from a satellite internet provider. And to make things even worse, everyone is getting charged $0.55 per minute, even when you are not getting a signal and are still connected. It took me 8 minutes to download my email into my Mac mail client. This was for only 15 messages with no attachments. The total download was less then 50K. That is just highway robbery!  After about 15 minutes of trying to get on line and the signal going up and down, 6 of us that were in the internet cafe on board went down to the front desk to complain. The young lady at the front desk listened to our complaint and issued each of us a $10 credit. It did not make the internet any faster, but it did take some of the bite out of the cost. It todays always connected world, cruise ships should be able to offer decent satellite internet connect speeds. I don’t expect cable broadband, but I do expect better then a dial up modem speeds.

Later in the day I was talking to my Son-in-Law about a future cruise. So we decided to go over to the future cruise booking area to see if we could get a brochure. I saw that there was a cabinet that was open with cruise brochures in it. I started looking for a Caribbean and a Europe brochure. All of a sudden I was pushed aside and scolded by Mr. Peter Enns the Loyalty Ambassador no less! I was told that  I was looking at a private cabinet and that he did not have ANY brochures (which I knew was not true as I was just about to pick one out of that cabinet.) Some Loyalty Ambassador, he made me feel like an ass in front of my son and all the other people that were in the room. Really a great way to make friends and influence people. It really made me very angry. I will guarantee I will NOT be booking our next cruise with Mr. Enns.

It was then back to the cabin for a quick rest before the show and dinner time.

Day 4: Roatan Honduras: Wednesday January 27, 2010, The temperature is in the Low 80’s and the sun is out with not a cloud in the sky! We are off on our tour of the island this morning. Our guide was Spencer and there were 10 people on our tour. I liked the fact that we had the smallest group, as we were able to get into and out of places very quickly. We first went to the Exotic Bird and Butterfly garden. This was a rather small but very interesting stop. They had lots a very talkative parrots and a number of toucans. The butterfly garden was outstanding. I have never seen so many butterflies in one area in my life. We even watch 2 climb out of their cocoons. After about an hour at the Garden we were off to the West End of the island to watch a performance of the “Important Dance!” After the performance we had a chance to walk on the beach and I took some great pictures! It was then off to the Botanical Gardens where we received an education of all the native plants on the island. We were also give the ability to taste some of the fruit that is grown on the island. All in All I give this tour an A+, it was much more then I expected which was a pleasant surprise! Then it was back to the ship for a late lunch and a short rest.

The evening entertainment was very good. It was Ice Show night. The name of the show was Ice Odyssey. It is really something to watch an Ice Show on a cruise ship. The Ice Rink is not the biggest you have ever seen, but the cast members were able to do things that you would think that they could only do on a large rink. I really enjoyed the show and would recommend it to everyone. After the Ice Show it was time for the Love and Marriage Game Show. This is always a very funny part of the cruise. This game is basically the old Newlywed game with a twist. They take a newlywed couple, a couple that has been married for approximately 33 years and then a couple that has been married for over 50 years.  Well as you can expect, things get very funny! It was a good time for all. After the show, we sat in on the Karaoke night in the Cleopatra’s Needle lounge and then off to bed.

Day 5 – Costa Maya, Mexico –  Thursday January 28, 2010, Today is our first port in Mexico. Costa Maya is a fairly new port. This port was built approximately 9 years ago and a town has grown up around it. It is a very quaint port and very easy to get in and out of. We went on a shore tour to Chacchoben, which is a Mayan archaeological ruins dig site. This is a wonderful area, it is about an hour drive inland from the port. Royal Caribbean uses a tour company that has brand new motor coaches with all the comforts of home. From a restroom to video screens, this was the most comfortable bus I have been on in years. If you have never been to a Mayan Ruins site before, this is a great place to start. It is one of the best tours available in Costa Maya. I highly recommend it.

Day 6 – Cozumel Mexico , Friday January 29, 2010 – Today was a day to relax and explore around the port area. It was HOT today! I walked halfway from the port to the downtown area, but it was so hot that I stopped and sat in the beach for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the ship.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and I really enjoyed being with my family for the week. I have said it many times that cruises are the best vacation for the money. I really hope that Royal Caribbean takes a look at their current operation and maybe return to the kind of customer service that my wife and family remember.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, food, Hotels, luggage, Mexico, Oasis of the Seas, pillows, restaurant, royal caribbean, ships, tours, Transportation, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations, Voyager of The Seas, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

That’s The Spirit – Screw Your Customers with Carryon Fees!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on April 29, 2010


Sprit Airlines Aircraft

Sprit Airlines, The All Fee Airline!

Ok, so the airlines started the whole fee deal with charging for food on the airplanes. Then they decided to charge to check a bag. But now one airline has crossed the line. Spirit Airlines has decided that to many people are bringing carry on luggage onto the plane. So to punish these passengers, they are going to charge them up to $45 to carry on a bag. That’s right, you heard me $45 to carry on a bag. What are they smoking over at the Spirit executive offices?

Spirit Airlines really does not understand that they caused the problem of to much carry on luggage in the first place.  This is how it happened. More then a year ago, Spirit decided that checked luggage was costing the airline too much money. So they decided to start charging to check a bag. The first bag would cost $25 to check and $25 for the 2nd bag. So passengers decided to carry on their luggage rather than pay the $25 to check it. Now Spirit feels that too many people are carrying on their bags. HELLO!!!  Are you idiot’s or just plain stupid Spirit! Have you ever heard of “Cause and Effect?”  You caused the passengers to carry on their luggage by charging them $25 to check it. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out Einstein!

Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that executives from American, Delta, Jet Blue, United and US Airways called to assure him that they would not follow Spirit’s lead in adopting the new carryon  charges. “we have begun to put the brakes on runaway and out-of-control airline fees,” Schumer said.

Schumer and 11 other senators have introduced legislation called the Block Airlines’ Gratuitous Fees Act (or BAG Fees Act), which would subject any fees charged for carry on baggage to the excise tax imposed on fares. A similar bill was introduced in the House.

Good for the Senators! Thanks for taking the bull by the horn. The airlines deserves what it gets!

I will tell you that I will not be flying Spirit anytime in the near future. Any airline that wants to charge me gratuitous fees will not get my business period!

Let me know how you feel about the subject.

Posted in airlines, luggage, tickets, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Southwest Vacations Hassle

Posted by thetraveldoctor on March 9, 2010


Al and Lil at Universal Studios New Years Day 2010

Al and Lil at Universal Studios New Years Day 2010

Just returned from a very cold trip to Orlando Florida. My wife and I took a Southwest Vacations package to Orlando at the Doubletree Universal. I love to fly Southwest Airlines as their crew, planes and gate areas are the best in the business.

I decided to use Southwest Vacations because the package of Hotel, Car and Flight were much less expensive then booking each component separately. I knew that something was not right when I tried to lookup my flight to put my rapid reward number in the record and the Southwest website told me it could not find my reservation. Now to be fair to Southwest Airlines, Southwest Vacations is run by the Mark Travel Corp, which owns Funjet Vacations and a number of other airline tour companies. The big problem is that Southwest Vacations issues paper tickets. I cannot tell you the last time I used a paper ticket on a domestic flight. Paper tickets are a hassle and they can be lost or stolen. Well, what Southwest Vacations does not tell you is that you cannot check in on line ahead of time, you can only get a “Security Document” that will get you through the security checkpoint, but you still have to stand in line to get a boarding pass. Plus, you cannot get this Security Document on the Southwest Airlines website, you have to go to the Southwest Vacations website, which is a completely different website. So once I figured this out, I tried to check in, as the website said, “Check in Online” which is really not correct. After jumping through a number of hoops, I was able to print out the “Security Documents”. It was a real hassle at Midway Airport in Chicago, but we got to the gate and I was able to stand in line and get a real boarding pass. The disaster was on the return trip.

It’s January 3, 2010 at 500AM. My wife and I had a 735AM Southwest flight from Orlando to Chicago Midway. I could not check in on line at my Orlando hotel because as you read earlier in this store, you can’t do that with paper tickets. We walk into the front door of the Orlando airport and look over at the Southwest Check In. To our surprise, there is a line that looks to be at least an hour and a half. Now we had only carry on luggage, so I asked the Southwest agent if we had to stand in line, she told me “know, just go to the self serve kiosk and check in. Well, you guessed it, it would not let me check in. So I ask the Southwest agent for help. She came over to the kiosk and tried 3 times to check us in. It just would not work. She said to me, “Why don’t you go out to the skycap and let him check you in.” I said “That is a great idea, thank you!” So I went outside to the skycap station. Well, there was a line there too, albeit a much shorter line (15 min instead of 1.5 hours) and the skycap then checked me in and we were on our way to the gate. Getting to the gate was a whole other story, as Orlando shut down the screening area for about 45 minutes but I will not bore you with the details. We did get home on our scheduled flight. I still love Southwest, but the vacation division has to allow the issue of etickets so passengers don’t run into the kind of problems we had.

Thinking of a cruise? Read my blog post on the new Oasis of The Seas at http://thetraveldoctor.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/oasis-of-the-seas-makes-some-last-minute-changes/

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Hotels, luggage, news, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Royal Caribbean Returns to Labadee Haiti

Posted by thetraveldoctor on January 23, 2010


Royal Caribbean Ship at Labadee, Haiti with beach in foreground.

Royal Caribbean Ship at anchor at Labadee, Haiti

Royal Caribbean returned to Labadee Haiti this past week. It was the first time the Royal Caribbean ships have stopped at Labadee since the devastating earthquake leveled Port au Prince on January 12, 2010.  Labadee is Royal Caribbean’s private resort and is located on the northern coast of Haiti. The Labadee resort area did not sustain any damage from the earthquake and was able to reopen to passengers of Royal Caribbean cruise line this past week.

Royal Caribbean has taken some criticism since returning passengers to the Resort. I for one applaud the company for bringing tourist back to this country that urgently needs the money. Royal Caribbean has pledged one million dollars toward the relief effort in Haiti. And with the return of the ships to Labadee brings urgently needed supplies and food for the people of Haiti. Royal Caribbean is using every ship in it’s fleet that calls on Labadee as a supply ship for the relief effort bringing much needed food, supplies and personnel. Royal Caribbean has contributed the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986, employing 300 locals and allowing another 200  locals to sell their wares in the native market within the resort. Royal Caribbean pays the Haitian Government $6 (US) per passenger that arrives on their ships to Labadee. This means that a Voyager Class ship that holds 3114 passenger pays a total of $18,684 per visit. There are at least 3 ship visits per week at $18,684 equals $56,052.00 per week. Plus all the money the passengers spend at the native market, Royal Caribbean is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into Haiti every month. And they have been doing this since 1986!

Zip Line at Labadee

Zip Line at Labadee

More than any other company in the United States, Royal Caribbean has been helping Haiti for over 20 years. So the next time you hear one of these pompous radio talk show host beating up on Royal Caribbean for bringing tourist back to Labadee, ask yourself, what has that talk show host done for the people of Haiti before or even after the earthquake? Some food for thought.

Posted in Brilliance of The Seas, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, emergency, Haiti, investments, islands, news, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oasis of The Seas makes some last minute changes

Posted by thetraveldoctor on December 2, 2009


The Oasis of the Seas Boardwalk area

The Oasis of the Seas Boardwalk area

Royal Caribbean new ship Oasis of The Seas is now sailing as the World’s Largest Cruise Ship. But there were a few last minute changes that were made to the ship before it arrived for it’s first cruise.

The original design of the Boardwalk “Neighborhood” was to have a tattoo parlor offering temporary tattoos and a tarot card reader store. But the tattoo idea was nixed and was replaced with a Pets at Seas store where passengers can make their own stuffed animals. The Tarot Card Reader Store, well let’s just say it was not “In The Cards.”

This is a great ship and if you have never cruised before, this would be a great ship to take your first cruise. Also Oasis has really out done itself with on the Entertainment offerings. Try it You will LOVE IT!

Posted in airlines, airplane, Allure Of The Seas, art, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, Credit Cards, cruise line, cruises, food, islands, luggage, Mexico, Oasis of the Seas, Panama Canal, restaurant, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Voyager of The Seas, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Farewell To Travel Trade Publications after 80 Years!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 26, 2009


 

Joel and Lenore Abels

Joel and Lenore Abels tribute dinner

It was a family run business for more than 3 quarters of a century. Joel and Lenore Abels were the best friends the travel industry ever had. Joel passed away on January 25, 2007 at the age of 80 and Lenore passed away 2 months later. The industry lost two great supporters that year.

 

I wondered what would happen to the publication that was built from scratch 78 years ago. I soon found out that the publication was sold to Ian Gittlitz and that he was going to continue the rich tradition of Travel Trade.

Things started to change at Travel Trade and it just didn’t look right. Then came the headline ” Ian Gittlitz, one of the owners of Travel Trade, had been arrested on embezzlement charges. If convicted, Gittlitz faces four to 15 years in prison.”

I was still told that Ian’s son, Seth was running Travel Trade and he was planing a great celebration for the 80th anniversary. But then things started to go south. They stopped publishing the print version of the publication and went to a “Web Only” version. Then at the end of September of 2009, the Website started to shut down. I tried for 3 weeks to contact someone at the offices in New York, but all I was able to get was a voice mail box. Then on October 20, the Website was pulled off the web and the phones were disconnected. This is very sad. Something that took 78 years to build was trashed in less then two and a half years. I am sad to see it go, but I will always remember my many years of friendship with Joel and his wife and what wonderful people they were.

 

Posted in airlines, airplane, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, Europe, Government, Las Vegas, luggage, news, royal caribbean, seniors, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

CSI The Experience Lands at MGM in Las Vegas

Posted by thetraveldoctor on September 22, 2009


MGM Hotel in Las Vegas

MGM Hotel in Las Vegas

“CSI: The Experience” which has been touring the country has found a permanent home at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas. This new attraction will give visitors the chance to be part of the CSI phenomenon. Guest will be able to survey their own crime scene, analyze evidence and crack the case. The experience starts at one of three crime scenes. After exiting the crime scene, the guests will head to the crime lab with their list of evidence and begin to piece together the mystery.

This is the first permanent exhibit for CSI, which has been touring the country for the past 2 years.

Rather than a “look-and-see” exhibit, this one lets visitors control the action. The interactive nature of the program and the technology are what sets “CSI: The Experience” apart from other museum exhibits

“CSI: The Experience” will be open to its first visitors starting at 10 a.m. Sunday September 13. The exhibit will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with tickets priced at $30.

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My Cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of The Seas

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 11, 2009


Alan & Lil on The Tender with the Mariner in the background

Alan & Lil on The Tender with the Mariner in the background

This is my second time on The Mariner of The Seas and my 87th cruise over all. With all these cruises under my belt, I feel that I have a good Idea of what makes a great cruise vacation.

My wife and I departed on July 12, 2009 from the Port of Los Angeles on Royal Caribbean’s  Mariner of The Seas. We were very excited to be on the Mariner again and were looking forward to a great vacation at sea. We sailed away from the dock at 5:45 PM and headed south from LA to Mexico in the crystal blue Pacific Ocean.

We Unpacked and settled into our stateroom.  We headed to the dinning room at 555PM, as we had first seating dinning. Royal Caribbean has instituted a “As You Like it Dinning” as an option for people that don’t like  early or late set dinning times. This option gives you the choice to come to the main dinning room at anytime between 6PM and 8:30PM and you are seated as if you were at a restaurant. I personally like the fixed seating at the same table, waiters and people at my table all week. We were seated at a table for 6 with two other couples. One couple was from the Chicago area and was also in the cabin next to us we discovered. The other couple was from Big Bear California. Really very nice people and we had a great conversation at dinner. But that’s what dinner on a cruise ship is really all about. Meeting new people, great food and great conversation. The food was excellent, which was nice to see that Royal Caribbean had not cutback on the quality of the food during these trying economic times.

After dinner it was off to the Savoy Theater for the welcome aboard show. We met our Cruise

The Parade on the Mariner of The Seas

The Parade on the Mariner of The Seas

Director Abe who gave us a rundown of what to expect during the upcoming week. Then we were entertained by a juggler and a comic, who were both very good. The evening ended with a great “Welcome Parade” on the Royal Promenade. So for the first day, things looked pretty good.

Since we had travelled with Royal Caribbean on more than 24 cruises, we are considered Diamond Plus members in their Loyalty program, which is the top tier of the program. Along with being in the top tier brings some perks, such as a special on board coupon book. Now it’s been 18 months since our last Royal Caribbean cruise and we were expecting the same perks in the coupon book we received in February of 2008. Well they have decided to change the coupon book and take away a lot of the “Perks” that they gave to their best customers. This did not make much sense to me. Why would you take away perks to your best customers. Things such as a free 8” X 10” photo is now gone and replaced by a 20% off coupon on a special type of 8” x 10” photo. Gone also is a free 30 minutes of internet usage, replaced by a $10 off coupon for internet usage. At a ridiculous $0.55 per minute (OUCH!) you will use that $10 credit up real quick, as the internet connection on this ship is so slow, you could finish the novel War and Peace before you could send your email.

Gone is the “Ship Shape” program. This program got people involved in the fitness activities aboard the ship. You would earn Ship Shape dollars for participating in the activities and you would then be able to redeem them for “Ship Shape” gifts at the end of the cruise. A really great program that I really was sorry to see it eliminated as I was on the ship that they started the ship shape program back in the 1980’s. I guess the one thing that Royal Caribbean eliminated that I was really sad to see go was the Mint and Saying on the Pillow at night. Did I eat the mint every night, no, but It was like a warm fuzzy that I had come to expect on Royal Caribbean ever since we sailed on our first cruise on the Song of Norway in 1978.

To be continued……..

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