Best Value for Disney World Accommodations

To experience Disney World at its finest, choosing the right accommodation means everything. You might be asking yourself: “Why does it matter what hotel I get if I’m spending most of the day at Disney World?” Your “home away from home” can make your vacation more fulfilling and allow the magic of Disney to continue even after you leave the park. There are two types of hotel options when it comes to staying at Walt Disney World: First, you have the Disney area hotels that are close to Disney World but not on Disney property. Second, there are the Disney owned and operated on site hotels that get you right in the action day and night.

Briefly consider Disney area hotels. We know that Disney World sits on 47 square miles of land and has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks. You could be close to Disney World by staying off site but still be 45 minutes from the Disney theme park of your choice. While these hotels are wonderful, you end up losing precious Disney time just trying to get to certain parks. I prefer Disney on site hotels as they offer free transfers between the airport and hotel, free access to Disney transportation to get you from one park to another, and extra magical hours where, for resort guest’s, one theme park opens 1 hour early and another stays open up to 3 hours after park closing time.

Disney offers 4 different types of hotel experiences on site and choosing the best selection for your family helps make the trip much more exciting.

Value Resorts:
These are wonderful properties which I would equate to a Holiday Inn type hotel. They offer 1 king or 2 double beds. They have several swimming pools and a large food court. These hotels work well if you plan on spending the majority of time away from the hotel. Two of the value hotels offer family suites that will sleep up to 6 people, but you can usually get 2 rooms with connecting doors for less money than the family suite.

Moderate Resorts:
These resorts offer 2 queen beds and some have a trundle bed that can sleep a fifth person. The rooms are larger than the value resorts and they have more pools and food options.

Deluxe Resorts:
These resorts are the best of the bunch, rated 5 stars and have several transportation options (three are on the monorail system). They also have 2 queen beds and most rooms will sleep up to 5 people. They offer fine dining as well as the quick service food court. These rooms are very large.

Disney Vacation Club Resorts:
The Disney Vacation Club has condominium type accommodations. They offer a full kitchen, living room areas and are 1-3 bedrooms in size. You can have food delivered to your condo but there are no grocery stores on Disney property. These are the most expensive accommodations, but are the best suited for larger families. You do not need to be a member of the Disney Vacation Club to stay at the condos.
Carrosel_Kids

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Going Away for the Holidays

There are almost 3 months until Thanksgiving and you can almost smell the roast turkey and Thanksgiving trimmings. Halt- Thanksgiving?! Already? Well, if you want to travel for the holidays- whether that is Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year’s- not only is it the right time to think about it now, but it’s time to talk to a travel agent about booking your holiday vacation.

Home away from home:  The holiday season is by far the busiest time for airlines, hotels, and cruise lines. Hotels are running at premium prices and the airlines rack up costs during this busy time, but people left and right are booking like crazy in order to book their holiday vacation. And it is easy to see why! The stress of preparing and cleaning up dinner, getting the house ready for guests and relatives, and kids running around the house all goes away when you are on vacation. This is also an opportune time because kids are out of school and many jobs give their employees time off. The holiday celebrations during vacation are longer than the one day holiday you would be spending at home, giving your family more time to bond over the holiday break. It’s a win-win situation all the way around.

When to book: More often than not, the longer you wait to book a vacation for the holiday period, the more expensive it can become and the less chance there will be availability.  After August, your chances of going to your number one choice destination decreases, especially for popular vacation spots such as Hawaii or Cancun. While you may still find great deals and prices up to a month before, remember that space on board a flight or cruise may already be full. In reality, the later you wait, your pickings will be slim and you may not like the leftovers.

Where to go: Popular destinations to head to during the holiday vacation are just about anywhere that is warm and sunny. These places include Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta, Thailand, Jamaica, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Florida. But Christmas away from home doesn’t have to be so tropical. If you can’t stand not to have snow on Christmas day and you would cry without having a traditional Christmas tree, then head to Quebec City, Canada; Manhattan, New York; Reykjavik, Iceland; or Barcelona.

Make this year’s holiday season unforgettable. It is a perfect time to start new traditions or enhance the old ones. The memories you create walking through the streets of Italy, sunbathing on the shores of Cancun, or riding Splash Mountain at Disneyland won’t get hidden behind the buffet of past traditional Thanksgiving dinners. This time, it’s going to be a memory your family will talk about for years to come!

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4 Benefits of Travel

4 Benefits of Travel

4 Reasons Why You Should Travel

There are many excuses why you may not travel. It could be work commitments, financial pressure, or a fear of new and different experiences. This, my friends, is what I call the excuse bug. Despite the fact that these very excuses were most likely used by the baby boomers themselves, it is now one of their biggest regrets. From a survey of 2,000 baby boomers, “one in five boomers [said] that one of their biggest regrets is not traveling enough….” Among other major regrets one might have at the end of his or her life, not traveling enough is a regret that can easily be remedied. Here are four reasons why you should travel and avoid the regret altogether:

1. A Boost of Happiness: We can all get caught up in crossing items off our checklist, and that may leave little room for fun and relaxation. Vacation is a time where you finally get the chance to relax, enjoy family time, and do what you WANT to do, not what you NEED to do.

2. Stress Reducer: While not all vacations are stress free, travel can be a source of liberation if it is well-planned. Having a travel agent work the schedule and details of your trip gives you a greater chance of a stress free vacation. Then, for at least a little while, you can forget all about the stresses and problems that are happening at home. Taking a break from the “have to do’s” will help us gain a better perspective of what we can accomplish. Not only will we be able to perform better, but we can handle future stress with greater capability.

3. Increase in Energy: Think of your body as a vehicle that needs fuel. Once it runs out, you need to fill it up. While your body needs food and water to keep it fueled, positive travel gives you the strength to tackle the tasks of adulthood.

4. Enhance Meaning in your life: Travel is educational. It is also life impacting and eye opening. We come to see purpose and meaning by immersing ourselves with other cultures, gaining gratitude for our own homes. New experiences give us new ideas, altering our perspective on not only how we see the world, but how we see ourselves and those around us. There is also ample opportunity to create new friendships and strengthen relationships already formed.

Life will always be busy, so get rid of the excuse bug and get out there! Give yourself the boost of happiness, the stress reducer, the increase in energy, and the enhanced meaning in your life that you deserve.

How has travel benefited you?

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MY FAVORITE HAWAII BEACHES

I love Hawaii. I love everything about Hawaii. I am constantly trying to figure out how I can get back to the islands. In just two months time I will make a return trip to Hawaii. In fact, this upcoming trip will be my 165th visit to Hawaii. My first trip was when I was a 16 year-old surfer boy from California. It was love at first site…and first wave!

I particularly enjoy the beaches. It’s beach heaven. I want to share with you some of my favorite Hawaiian beaches. This is not a complete list, but just a few to get you started.

Waikiki Beach Oahu. Crazy, chaotic, and crowded. I have sometimes referred to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach as the “Tijuana of the Pacific.” Yes, it is crazy, but I love this beach. There are so many activities and a great place for “people watching.” Ask your hotel which nights “Sunset Movies on the Beach” are shown on a big screen right on Waikiki.

North Shore Beach Oahu. A seven-mile stretch of beach on the windward side of the island where the winter surfing championships are held. It’s a great place for whale watching during the migratory season. This area is also home to Pu’u Mahuka Heiaum Oahu’s oldest ancient religion shrine. Be sure to stop at one of the many fresh shrimp trucks for lunch. The Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck and Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, both located near Kahuku, are the most well known with their garlic and butter shrimp being popular.

Lanikai Beach Oahu. This picturesque beach with pristine sand and turquoise water, calm waves, and a lush tropical garden environment it is perfect for couples and families. Located near Kailua and less than an hour’s drive from Waikiki. Presently there are no washrooms or facilities available.

Poipu Beach Kauai. A beautiful beach on the southern part of the island. Calm water with facilities and food service available, it is perfect for families. Easy accessible from many hotels.

Kauna’oa Beach Hawaii. Located on the Big Island, Kauna’oa is a secluded crescent-shaped beach in a serene tropical setting located on the west side of the island not far from the Mauna Kea Hotel. The beach is popular for swimming and snorkeling, but parking is limited. Be advised, this beach is limited to just 25 persons at any given time. It’s best to arrive before 9:00AM.

Punalu’u Beach Hawaii. You will recognize this beach from photographs. Punalu’u is the Big island’s famous black sand beach and home to the endangered green sea turtles located on the east side of the island. It’s a great pace to camp, picnic, relax, and snorkel.

Kaanapali Beach Maui. Okay, it is “hotel row” and the many areas of the beach are narrow due to hotel construction, I still love this beach. Kaanapali is a great place for swimming and paddle boarding and one of the best places in all of Hawaii for whale watching during the winter months. The area offers a wide variety of hotels and restaurants.

Hawaii no ka oi! (“Hawaii is the best!”)

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The Getaway Guru’s Favorite European Destinations

There are over fifty countries to choose from when planning your European Vacation. That can make planning a little overwhelming when deciding where to go! The Getaway Guru (who is always here to help) has chosen the top twenty cities that you MUST check out on your next trip to Europe. Check out the infographic for his top picks, as well as his favorite things to do in each city!

Top 20 European Cities (3)

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Your Travel Professional!

I refuse to give an online website the designation of “travel agency.” A real agency with real live agents not only finds things for you, he/she gives advice, makes comparisons, and can be called for backup when a problem occurs. Nothing on the Internet can do all those things. Don’t get me wrong. I use travel websites a lot. In fact, I usually find what I want on the Internet and then call my real, live, breathing, talking travel agent to discuss what I’ve found. And no, he doesn’t cost me a cent, unless I am asking to simply purchase an airfare. He gets his commissions from the hotels, resorts, cruise lines, car companies – the venders – who provide the travel commodities I am looking for. In most cases of airfare only purchases, I do get them on the internet; but, if it’s a complicated international ticket I’m looking for, I have my travel agent do the work.

GETTING TRAVEL PROBLEMS SOLVED
First and foremost, I want someone with know-how and clout when I have a problem. I’ve arrived at hotels that have told me they didn’t have a record of my reservation. I even tried to check in for a return trip home just a year ago and was told there was “no one by your name with a reservation today on any airplane in our entire system.” In both cases I pulled out my cell phone, called my travel agent, handed the phone to the offending representative of the hotel and airline, who was then aided in finding my hotel booking, and last year, my plane reservation.

If you face a snafu with a cruise booking, it sure would be handy to call your travel agent, who made the booking, and let him deal with the friendly cruise line representative who is trying to check you in.

COMPARISON SHOPPING
Another thing my travel agent does is compare what I have found with what he can find. Comparison-shopping is very important when booking travel. In the case of a cruise, larger travel agencies, like Columbus Travel, do a lot of bookings with a particular cruise line, and are often given reduced prices (even lower than going to the cruise company direct), upgrades, on board credits, and other perks.

Hotels are notorious for having varied prices. I once found a hotel in Prague with four different prices for the same room on as many websites. My travel agent found several more different prices from his sources, then advised me to book through one of the sites I had gone to on my own. The price of the room per night varied by $125.

WATCH OUT WHEN LOOKING AT REVIEWS
With the matter of hotel and resort reviews, I no longer use or recommend Trip Advisor. I personally think the guest reviews are not reliable. They also have been accused of “rigging” the reviews to favor resorts and hotels with whom they have a business arrangement.

I think all reviews based on guests who are alleged to have stayed at the place you are considering are sometimes rigged. Yes, I know you are shocked, but guest reviews are totally untrustworthy. People who are marketing the resort or hotel write many of the reviews. What’s more, guest reviews, even if written by real guests, are colored by the expectations and experiences those individuals have had. Actually, professional reviews are far superior. A better option would be to find someone who can give you a professional judgment about a particular place you are considering, someone who has a basis for his ratings, who has gone through hundreds of onsite inspections of hotels and resorts.

But, where can you find such a person? Well, an experienced travel agent would be a good start. She or he has been on hundreds of “familiarization tours” with lots of other agents in lots of places in the world where all they did was go on site inspections of hotels and/or resorts. And if your agent is from a larger agency with ten or more agents, he or she has lots of other people who are professionals who can offer more information. Also, if you are dealing with someone who has you as a client, they do not want you to have a bad experience.

RECOMMENDED WEBSITES
I have four sites I use and I think you can trust.

  • FOR GENERAL INFO AND REVIEWS

You can’t beat columbusvacations.com, not only for unbiased professional reviews and lots of trustworthy general travel information, but the best cruise search-engine on the planet. And all of this stuff comes free of charge!

  • FOR HOTELS AND RESORTS

A great site for making comparisons of the best deals available can be found at trivago.com.  Even if I find what appears to be a super deal at hotels.com, I check for comparisons at Trivago.

  • FOR AIRFARES

If you want to compare the cost of flying on every airline going to your destination, kayak.com is the place to go.  Just remember, Southwest Airlines doesn’t participate in any other online travel website, so you have to go to southwest.com to see what they have in comparison with what you’ve found at Kayak.  Also, remember that Southwest doesn’t charge for your first bag checked.  And a final reminder:  If you are booking a complicated international flight, you should call a travel agent.  An experienced agent might find you an air routing that Kayak has not been programmed to check.

  • FOR INFO ABOUT THE PLACE YOU ARE GOING

First, ask your travel agent if he/she has been there or has clients who have reported what they found to be “must see” sites.  Then, just “google” or “bing” the convention and/or visitors bureau at the destination.

 

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Don’t be Fooled

One of the things we take most seriously at Columbus Travel is helping people get the very best deal for their money. A challenge we often face is helping clients understand the difference between a great deal for one part of a trip and a great deal for the total cost of a trip.

For example recently we had a client interested in Hawaii.  They had never been there before and wanted to see as much as possible.  We recommended the Norwegian cruise that visits all four islands in a week starting at $999 cruise plus taxes and airfare.  The client said that was way more than he planed to pay and they bought a six night two island package at a 4 star hotel.  What they bought seemed lower in cost but was it really?

Their costs included round trip airfare to Honolulu, three nights hotel in Waikiki, airfare to Maui, a car rental on each island and taxes.  Total cost per person was $1,690. The cruise with airfare was $1,860 per person – about $170 more.

Food in Hawaii is not inexpensive and they were probably going to spend much of the difference in meals alone.  The cruise is two days longer, includes all meals, entertainment aboard ship, transportation between the islands and more.

The clients said they had cruised before and knew that a good cruise deal was $499 and not $999. That is true if sailing out of Miami on a Caribbean cruise.  Due to government regulations and other costs, it is more to cruise Hawaii and other ports.

Other examples we often run into are finding a great deal on a cruise but not looking at the cost of airfare.  Miami is the cheep cruise capitol of the world.  Nothing wrong with that – lots of great deals, but sometimes airfare to Miami is much more expensive than other ports. For example there are Caribbean cruise deals out of Tampa, Port Canaveral (by Orlando), New Orleans and Houston/Galveston.  Airfare to these cities can often be as much as $200 to $300 less than Miami.

Other things to consider are transfer costs.  For example transfers for a cruise out of Southampton are about $150 less than out of Dover.  Transfers for a cruise out of Houston are $60 less than out of Galveston.

Taxes are also important.  It is difficult to figure out how some cruise lines calculate taxes.  One cruise line can charge $80 for taxes and another $130 for the same cruise going to the same ports.  Be certain these are considered.

Point is – look at all of the costs not just the lead in cost.  Nothing wrong with great lead in costs. We try to find them all the time for our clients.  Be certain however to look at the total cost you’ll pay in the end not just the beginning price.

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CARNIVAL IS WORKING ON A COMEBACK

No need to ask, Carnival Cruise Lines is a big operator. It is thee cruising giant with an estimated 30-percent of the total cruise business in the world; however, that business has been off for them this summer in the wake of bad press resulting from a couple of incidents; most recently, the February fire aboard the Carnival Triumph. In an effort to bring back the bucks Carnival “is making significant investments to enhance the level of operating redundancies” (“redundancies” meaning back up systems) “and the scope of hotel services that can run on emergency power, and further improve each ship’s fire prevention, detection and suppression systems,” says a statement from the cruise behemoth.

But that isn’t all. Not by a long shot!

I just returned from a Caribbean cruise on Carnival’s brand new Breeze, and I found the service was supreme, the dining to be delightful, and the entertainment . . . well, entertaining – really great! Not only that, I found the price lots of people paid for the cruise was about a third of what I paid last November when I purchased it as a Christmas present for my oldest son and his family. Too bad Carnival doesn’t do what many other cruise lines do: allow customers to make a refundable deposit in order to hold staterooms. If they did, I would have cancelled in June and rebooked at the low rate people were paying at that time.

All of this great service, food, entertainment and low prices, I think, is part of a plot to get you to book a Carnival Cruise.

Carnival has the reputation of being the “party cruise company,” and while it is true that they do emphasize fun, we found lots of families with children of all ages on board. While the bars appeared to be very active, we didn’t find a single staggering drunk anywhere. Nobody was rude or obnoxious, and we slept soundly each evening (retiring usually before 11:00 p.m.) to only the sounds of the air conditioner and our own snoring.

As I said, the food was fantastic. We had breakfast each day on the Lido Deck where the buffet included four omelet stations (my favorite) and the cook remembered me and how I wanted my omelet after the first day, as well as that my wife wanted two eggs over-easy. Each evening we ate in the main dining room at 6:00 p.m., and the menu was varied and exquisite – as good as we’ve had on a cruise, and better than most.

The service, particularly in the main dining room, was over the top – very friendly, prompt and attentive. The steward, the waiters, everyone knew what we wanted and when we wanted it after being asked the first time. And, darn it, they were really friendly.

The entertainment was very good, particularly the comedians, all of whom are selected and supervised for Carnival by the George Lopez comedy company.

But the really good news is that in an effort to fill every stateroom, which is a must for every cruise line on every cruise for various reasons I won’t mention here, the prices are lower than at any time I’ve observed in my 24-years of doing The Travel Show radio broadcast. Six and seven day cruises from now through January, 2014 for as low as $269 for inside cabins, as low as $479 for balconies.

Too good to be true? Not so!

Check out the prices yourself using the cruise search engine on the home page of columbusvacations.com. Needless to say, the very best cruise search engine on the planet from Utah’s leading travel agency, Columbus Travel.

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AIR TRAVEL SAFETY

The fear of flying possessed by many folks wasn’t alleviated by the two mishaps this month: the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco and the failure of landing gear on the Southwest aircraft landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Utah’s leading travel agency, Columbus Travel, has some great reasons for encouraging peace of mind when you are taking a airplane trip.

On her daily television show Whoopi Goldberg expressed what many people feel: “I have no fear of flying, because when I go on a trip, I take my bus.”

Humorous, but an expression of a false notion.

The fact is: Whoopi is far more at risk for injury or death in her bus than she would be in an airplane. The only thing more dangerous than a bus ride would be if she drove her car, or perhaps a motorcycle. The most risky part of an airplane trip is driving to and from the airport. That’s a statistical fact.

But there are many more factors relating to airline travel safety, not the least of which is how much better trained are the pilots and other crew members today than at any previous time. And Pilots tell me they have much more of a team approach. No longer is it a matter of the pilot speaking and the thinking has been done. He’s the captain, not the dictator. Decision making is fed by the cabin and ground crews, dispatchers, meteorologists, as well as others in the cockpit.

Then there are the modern technological factors. Flying an airplane is no longer a matter of just pulling back on “the stick,” it involves operating and overseeing numerous high tech systems. All of which make the journey much safer.

Some people think they might be more safe with one airline company than another, or that a certain type of aircraft promises more safety than another. Such comparisons result in miniscule differences if any.

What about those smaller 50-seat regional jets? Some think a larger aircraft would be better. My response would be “Why?” Does anyone really think bigger means safer? You may find more overhead bin space, but there is nothing factual that would make a large plane more safe. Actually, aren’t larger aircraft more difficult to maneuver than smaller ones?

So, what do we need to do “in the unlikely event that an emergency should occur?” Unfortunately, the lawyers long ago took over – like they have in so much of our lives – the safety instructions given by flight attendants; so, we get legalese in the form of lengthy disclaimers and qualifiers. As a result, almost all of the flying public simply tunes them out.

Here are four really important tips for dealing with airplane emergencies:

First, if the overhead oxygen mask drops in front of you, put yours on first before helping someone else with theirs. If you pass out from lack of oxygen, you won’t really be able to help your children or anyone else. Put yours on immediately, then your help will be more effective.

Second, make sure you know where the exits are. Emergencies usually result in chaos. Know where you need to go in order to get off.

Third, follow the instructions of the cabin crew. The flight attendants have been trained to handle almost any possible occurrences in emergency situations. Do what they tell you to do.

Finally, keep your hands free. Forget your purse, your computer, your briefcase, your pillow, your i-pad, your lunch, your carry-on suitcase in the overhead bin (if it’s still there). You can retrieve those things later. And if you never get them, it’s more important to be alive than to risk life and limb and the lives of others. Yes, if you have nothing in your hands you will actually be safer.

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It’s a must see world wonder, a fantastic feat of extraordinary engineering, and a colossal cruising experience. Going through the Panama Canal is definitely bucket-list worthy. High bucket-list.

The Panama Canal is a 48-mile connection between the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean that cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake (85 feet above sea-level), a man-made body of water created to reduce the amount of work required to drive water through locks that allow those ships to be raised up and then lowered into the ocean waters. Our ship cruised into a lock, the door was closed behind, the water gates were opened and the lock filled with water until the ship was 42-feet higher (21.5 in two more cases), then the door in front of the ship opened and it sailed into the next lock, and so on.

France began work on the canal in 1881 after it completed the building of the Suez Canal in Egypt. The French wanted to dig a sea-level canal, but had to stop because of engineering problems and high mortality due to disease. The United States later took over the project and took a decade to complete the canal in 1914, enabling ships to avoid the lengthy Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America. How much time does it save versus the old way of sailing from New York City to Los Angeles? More than two weeks!

There are two types of Panama Canal cruises, which interestingly, if you go the way we went (from Atlantic to Pacific), you sail from the northwest to the southeast because of the way the isthmus between North and South America turns and twists. The vast majority of the cruises start in either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, Florida and sail through the Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side to Gatun Lake, then turn around and go back out the way they came in and go back from whence they started. Such cruises never pass through the Culebra Cut, the actual part of the canal that was dug, or the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side; nor do they go under The Bridge of the Americas, which symbolically links North America with South America, or past Panama City on the southern shore of the canal where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. All of which is why I highly recommend you cruise the Panama Canal all the way through, and this requires sailing up or down the west coast of Mexico, depending on whether you are going from Atlantic to Pacific or vice versa.

Yes, if you want to go “from sea to shining sea,” you are probably going to cruise the canal in the spring or the fall. Why? Because the vast majority of cruises through the Panama Canal that go “all the way,” so to speak, are what are called “repositioning cruises.” Repositioning cruises result when a ship has been following a particular itinerary in one part of the world and is sailing to another part of the world for a completely different itinerary.

Here’s how it works. Alaska is very popular. Almost every cruise line in the world sends ships to Alaska for the summer, but that season only lasts from May through September for those companies. Almost everyone also loves to cruise in the Caribbean – Southern Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, the cruise lines are all there from October through April. Really hot places are not nearly as popular in July as they are in January. How convenient: those two areas of the world have popular seasons for us cruisers that dovetail wonderfully. You can do one, and when it’s done, you do the other. But this means the ships have to reposition themselves from the one to the other; hence, the “repositioning cruise.” All cruise lines plan them for anywhere from four to seven days down the west coast from Vancouver, B.C. or Seattle to Los Angeles in late September or early October, and going up the coast in late April or early May. Then there are cruises from Los Angeles to Florida (or vice versa depending on whether it’s spring or fall). Some of them even go all the way to or from New York City, such as the one we just completed with 45 of our close personal friends.

Ah, but wait, there’s more! The really great news is these repositioning cruises are almost always priced at really low rates. You’d be lucky to find a seven-day Alaska cruise in July for under a thousand dollars, but our 17-day cruise going all the way from New York City to Los Angeles had prices starting at $999 per person. $59 a day. $118 per couple. You cannot stay at the Salt Lake City Motel 6 and eat at McDonalds for that. And believe me, the food on the cruise ship is way better and offers far more choices; plus, cruises offer lots of choices for nightly entertainment.

Here’s my next recommendation. Get a balcony cabin – a stateroom with a floor to ceiling sliding glass door with a veranda. You’ll find two chairs and a small table – perfect for the room service breakfast we were offered whilst we enjoyed the trip into the canal. Our balcony cost us a few hundred dollars more apiece, but we loved having a constant view of the sea, as well as being able to view our ports of call as we sailed in and out.

Traversing the Panama Canal is a 12-hour proposition starting early in the morning. We were out there before dawn as the ships lined up to go through. We were second. Breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs and toast and other goodies was served at 6:00. We actually went to one of the dining rooms with wall to wall windows for lunch. We sailed past Panama City shortly after 5:00. Everything in between boggled the mind as we comprehended what a tremendous feat was accomplished over a hundred years ago.

by Don Shafer (5-23-13)

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