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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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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The Shocking News About Travel Agents

An independent study conducted by TNS Global and funded by Carnival Corporation has revealed some amazingly shocking news about travel agents. It found that travel agents not only provide personal service- which is lacking with online bookings – but that trips booked through travel agents are less expensive than trips booked online. Here is a look at what the study found:

  • Avoid costly mistakes: More than likely, you don’t book a trip yourself just about every day of the week, but travel agents do. Travel agents are familiar with how the travel industry works and know what holes to avoid. Their personal experience allows them to be aware of scams and recognize where to find the good deals. You can’t believe everything you read or see on the internet, so trust a travel agent to be able to save you money and avoid making costly mistakes.
  • Save time and money: If you have ever tried to book an extensive trip online, be prepared to have a lot of tabs and windows open in your research process. It’s a pain! Travel agents are all about saving you time and money. From the study, “Consumers report that travel agents save them an average $452 per trip, and four hours in travel planning.” While you and travel agents have access to the same internet websites, travel agents can get access to exclusive pricing and package deals that you may not find or obtain on your own.
  • Reduced stress: Vacations should be stress free, right? Then why shouldn’t planning a trip be less stressful? Instead of worrying about transfers between the airport and your hotel or making sure the location of your hotel is close to your desired attractions, etc., you could be focusing on making memories. Travel agents take care of all the details for you so you can enjoy every bit of your holiday.
  • A better travel experience: “Consumers told TNS Global that if you want a better travel experience, use an agent, said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.”
  • Travel agents are some of the first to know about a new tour or discount in vacation packages. They are skilled at finding and obtaining the best shore excursions, tours, and accommodations at the right price in order for you to have a relaxing vacation. Agents know what activities you won’t want to miss.
  • Travel security: Travel agents can provide resources you may not even think about. They can help you prepare for potential hazards or assist you in case of lost luggage or a medical emergency. Whether they make rearrangements themselves or put you in touch with the right people, agents will work hard to make you happy.

You will never regret booking with a travel agent, especially with the amount of money, time, and stress they will save you.

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Things not to Touch

Life is not a sanitary experience.  You are continually forced to be with hordes of humans with all types of coughs, colds and questionable hygiene habits.  If you are a “gemophobe,” you will want to carry a lot of antiseptic handy wipes with you, whether you go to the movies, a sports stadium, church or any number of travel venues.

Suzy Strutner, Associate Lifestyle Editor of The Huffington Post says, “Studies have found nasty germs – from E. coli that causes severe diarrhea to MRSA bacteria that’s resistant to many antibiotics — in all sorts of places,” and she has listed seven things to avoid touching when flying.

7 things to avoid touching on an airplane:

1. The armrests.  What?  Everybody uses the armrest!  Strutner says “researchers applied a virulent strain of E. coli to airplane armrests, the nasty bacteria stayed there for a whopping 96 hours — longer than it lasted on both tray tables and toilet flushers.”  She advises that “you definitely don’t want to rub your hands all over the armrest.”

2. The tray tables.  Ms. Strutner reports that “researchers from the University of Arizona swabbed them during a 2007 study, [and] four out of six tray tables tested positive for MRSA and noroviruses — a bevy of nasty, germs that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. What’s worse, many flight attendants say they only wash tray tables about once per day.”

3.  The inside door handle of the lavatory.  Way too many people, particularly men, do not wash their hands after using the restroom.   Enough said.

4.  The button that flushes the toilet.  This button may be even worse than the unsanitary door handle

5.  Likewise, the lavatory faucet handles.  These were used before you washed your hands, so yo might want to turn them off with a paper towel in your hand.

6.  The blankets.  They may be fresh at the beginning of the day, but after use, they are almost always folded up and reused throughout the day for many flights.  Meanwhile, users have been coughing, sneezing and drooling on them before it’s your turn.

7.  The toilet seat.  For obvious reasons my parents taught me to use seat covers and to avoid touching them all together.  And if I did, to wash hands thoroughly afterward.

6 things not to touch in a hotel room or resort:

1.  The bedspread.  They may give you clean sheets, but these things are almost never washed.  And without going into disgusting detail, all sorts of things have been done on them and spilled on them.

2.  The television remote.  These things have been used by hundreds, maybe thousands, of people after their hands have been involved in every sort of activity that could happen in a hotel room, and remotes are never cleaned.

3.  The telephone.  People with all sorts of sicknesses have been talking into the mouthpiece you are talking into.

4.  The door handles to the room or the bathroom on the inside or outside.  They are almost never cleaned, so whatever previous users had on their hands will be on yours.

5.  The bedside table top.  Dirty hands, used kleenexes, spilled foods and drinks and medicines have been there, and it is doubful that it has been cleaned.

6.  Your bank or credit card accounts with the hotel/resort wifi.  This is not a good place to check these accounts.  If you have used any hotel wifi with your computer, you have probably noticed lots of surrounding hotel wifi login options.  The point is this, there is no easier place in the world to steal your account info on the inteernet than when you are accessing it with this wifi system.

5 things not to touch on a cruise ship:

1.  The handles of the serving spoons at the buffet.  The stainless steel serving dishes are replaced constantly (every time one of them goes empty), but the same serving spoon that has been handled by hundreds of passengers is usually transfered, not replaced.

2.  The buffet food if children are serving themselves.  My wife and I were once at a buffet where dozens and dozens of children were grabbing foods, often with their hands – even putting some back after putting foods on their plates.  If you find this situation, leave the buffet and go to another onboard restaurant where you will be served by a waiter.

3.  The stateroom bedspread.  See above concerning the hotel bedspread.

4.  The stateroom television remote.  Likewise, see above concerning hotel TV remote.

5.  Stateroom door handles.  Door handles anywhere are a germophobe’s nightmare.  If you are like me, don’t think about it, because life is too short to be worrying about who has touched every handle you need to use.  Just remember to wash your hands often, and especially before eating.  On cruise ships you’ll find sanitizing solution at every entrance to every dining area.

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Cruising Concerns

In spite of the rapid growth in the popularity of going on a cruise, many have concerns about taking such a vacation.  And I want to address and perhaps allay any such worries.

First – Fear of getting seasick.  This is hardly ever a problem on a river cruise, but even on an ocean cruise, and only with a small percentage of people, one that can be solved by visiting your doctor before you leave on vacation.  He or she can give you a prescription for Scopolamine Transdermal Patch.  Before you set sail, you simply apply this little patch to your neck, behind your ear, and it will be very effective if you have difficulty in stormy seas.

Second – Bad weather, and usually in the Caribbean.  “What if there’s a hurricane?”  The interesting thing about hurricanes is that they are almost always confined to a specific local area.  A couple of hundred miles away and the sun is shining and people are basking by the pool.  The general direction a hurricane is going is always forecast, and the cruise lines have hundreds of employees working on alternate destinations with alternate shore excursions.  Ships never sail into a hurricane.

Third – Engine failure on the ship.  That’s a problem that seldom finds a place to happen.  Such a situation has occured only a few times in the last 25 years, and, at most, has inconvenienced passengers for a few days.  Let’s face it, inconveniences can happen anywhere for lots of different reasons.  I personally have had all of my engine problems with our various automobiles on driving trips.

Fouth – The captain runs the ship aground.  Well, the village idiot who performed that exercise a few years back is now in prison where he belongs.  In reality, vastly more people have had serious injuries and fatalities, again, while driving the family car on vacation.

Fifth – Mass sickness aboard the cruise ship.  Again, this has happened at conventions, hotels, schools, workplaces, anywhere people congregate; however, the cruising industry has employed far more precautions than any of thesoe other places.

Sixth – Nothing to do on a ship other than play shuffleboard or gamble in the casino.  The fact is this:  cruise ships have become destinations unto themselves.  Instead of just shipboard pools and whirlpool tubs, many ocean liners have water parks.  Some have climbing walls, simulated surfing, ziplines, bowling alleys, and more.  They have running tracks and workout facilities.  There are daily seminars, classes, movies, lectures, etc.  They all have a variety of spa treatments available.  And, of course, when in port, you’ll find scores of shore excursions for sightseeing, shopping, snorkeling and all kinds of other activities that are available.

The neat thing about all of this is that your only planning will involve choosing what to do.

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Orlando Trip Planning Aids

It all started with Walt Disney World, but today there’s a lot more to do and see in Orlando.  Yes, there are theme parks galore:  four in Disney World alone; plus Universal Studios features two theme parks; then there’s Sea World; and also Legoland.  In addition, you can visit the Kennedy Space Center, and on May 4th the Orlando Eye opens.  A handy tool in planning an Orlando stay can be found at the website visitorlando.com – a great source of information.  It also has discounts available for restaurants, hotels and several attractions.

Walt Disney World:

Four magnificent theme parks on 48-square miles of land – Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  On property are also 23 Disney resort hotels, two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon).  Whereas Disneyland in California is a weekend getaway, Disney World will require at least a full week.

Lasts year, Disney started a new program at the Walt Disney World Resort called “My Magic Plus,” which will enable you to plan your entire vacation before leaving home.  You can reserve your free “fast-pass” options 30-days in advance of your vacation.  Fast-pass lets you reserve a time for up to three rides – show up without waiting in line.  If you are staying at a Disney on site hotel, you can start reserving 60-days prior to travel.  You can reserve three fast-passes per person per day.  After you use your three fast passes, you can reserve three more at any of the fast pass kiosk’s located throughout the parks.

Guests staying at a Walt Disney Resort hotel will receive a “magic band.”  The magic band is programmed to contain your room key, Disney admission pass, your fast-passes and your dinner reservations.  You can actually set up your “magic band” to charge all your purchases if you would like.

Get the ball rolling by registering at startyourdisneyexperience.com.  From this website you can select the color for each family member’s “magic band” and have them sent to your home prior to your vacation.  You can also sign up for your fast-passes, make dinner reservations and, for select hotels, pre-register and bypass the front desk by going straight to your room.  Your magic band will be your room key.

You can also get an app for your smart phone that will show you your fast-pass reservations, wait times and the different attractions.

Universal Studios Orlando:

Here you will find two parks:  “Universal’s Islands of Adventure” and “Universal Studios Florida,” of which the former is home to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

Add a second week to your vacation and get an “Orlando FLEXTICKET,” which will give you park to park admissions at Universal, as well as “Wet n’ Wild,” “Seaworld” and “Aquatica.”  Purchase a ‘FLEXTICKET PLUS” and you can add Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay (about two hours away).

Kennedy Space Center:

Located about an hour outside of Orlando, but well worth the drive, the space center offers several tour options, as well as astronaut experiences.  Also on display is the space shuttle Atlantis.

The Orlando Eye:

This will be a 400-foot tall observation wheel (like a giant ferris wheel, but with enclosed gondolas) similar to the London Eye and the Las Vegas High Roller.

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The Getaway Guru’s Favorite San Francisco Eateries

Many people love San Francisco, including The Getaway Guru, and lot’s of folks know he came from the city by the bay, visits it as often as he can, and loves to eat in its myriad of great restaurants.  Here’s a list of The Guru’s favorites.

SEAFOOD:  

Tadich Grill at 240 California Street is a nostalgic “old-school” seafood restaurant with high ceiling, surly waiters, but great food.  It opened in 1849 with the absolute best Cioppino (seafood stew) in the world.  Other favorites include Petrale Sole (what doesn’t taste good sauteed in herbed butter?), Sand Dabs, and Oysters Rockefeller.   No reservations.

Anchor Oyster Bar is at 579 Castro Street.  Since 1977, diners have been coming to this nautically themed eatery for fresh fish.  They are especially noted for Crab and Oysters.

Scoma’s Pier 47 is actually on Pier 1 between Fisherman’s Wharf  and Ghiradelli Square and boasts “the freshest seafood.”  Yeah, it’s a bit touristy, but pretty solid delivery of the best seafood in the Wharf area.

ITALIAN & PIZZA: 

Delfina Italian  is at 3621 18th Street and it’s not your “mom and pop” spaghetti joint, but offers a modern interpretation to Italian cuisine.  Review the menu before going.  Delfina Pizzeria is next door.

Cotogna Italian at 490 Pacific Avenue is a popular, rustic-modern eatery serving wood-fired pizzas, housemade pasta, and familiar and inventive Italian classics.

Tony’s Pizzeria Napoletana at 1570 Stockton Street in the heart of San Francisco’s “Little Italy” is the home of 11-time “World Pizza Champion” Tony Gemignani.  They have a large variety of pizzas, including Tony’s famous Margherita.  And, by the way, he only will cook 73 Margheritas each day!  Expect wait lines at busy times.

CHINESE:

Ton Kiang at 5821 Geary Boulevard is a bustling mainstay serving dim sum all day plus Hakka staples such as Salt-Baked Chicken at dinner.  Good seafood and one of the best dim sum restaurants.

R & G Lounge at 631 Kearny Street in Chinatown offers classic Cantonese cuisine downstairs in a basic area and more formal dining upstairs.

Mission Chinese Food, 2234 Mission Street, is nothing fancy, but a neighborhood favorite serving up good homestyle food.

House of Nanking, 919 Kearny St., is a local favorite serving familiar Chinese dishes in a cozy atmosphere. Lines out the door often form during busy times. Located in Chinatown.

THAI:

Marnee Thai at 2225 Irving Street south of Golden Gate Park is a small, family owned restaurant offering classic Thai cuisine.  Ask for their daily specials.

INDIAN: 

Amber India, 25 Yerba Buena Lane, has a diverse, high-end menu of modern and regional Indian dishes plus a lunch buffet in a polished space.  Good variety.

COMFORT FOOD: 

Max’s Opera House Café at 601 Van Ness features a “Cheesecake Factory” type menu.  The food is good, but the waiters are great.  Tell them it’s your birthday and the servers, all whom are opera singers and music students, will serenade you!

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FLIGHT DELAYS DUE TO WEATHER

Flight delays and cancellations can happen at any time of the year, but in winter, they are sometimes monumental.  And it may be sunny where you are; however, bad weather somewhere else could lead to a delay or cancellation at your airport.  Your plane, the crew scheduled to be on it, or an airport where you are scheduled to land could be storm shrouded. Or your aircraft or crew could have been delayed by poor weather in between other airports. Or there could be a line of thunderstorms blocking flight paths.

What is the airline’s responsibility?

An airline must put a passenger on the next flight that has an open seat.  That is really their only obligation, outside of a possible refund.  These days, most flights are booked to full or nearly full capacity.  And during holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, of course, the “next available flight” could be days away, depending on the scope of the disruption.

Does the airline owe you a refund?

If your flight is canceled and you decide not to try and find a seat on another flight, you are entitled to a refund for the unused portion of your itinerary.  If you continue with your travel, you are not entitled to a refund, regardless of a delay or cancellation.  The airline is also not obligated to provide you with compensation for food or lodging because of a delay or cancellation.

If a delay is the airline’s fault – for example, a mechanical delay – you might be offered some sort of compensation, but the carrier is not legally bound to do so.

If the cancellation is weather-related, you are unlikely to receive any compensation.  And remember, weather problems can be far broader than what you see in your local area.

What do you do?

#1- Be proactive, purchase travel insurance.  Basic Travel insurance costs $30 to $40 per person, but if your flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather the airline is not responsible for additional hotel costs or other expenses that may be associated with delays. Travel insurance can not only help by paying for a hotel room, but also may help get you on a different airline that may have availability.  Columbus Travel (800-373-3328) can help you get the right coverage, even if you purchased your airline ticket on the internet or by calling the airline.

#2- Register for flight alerts.  The earlier you know there’s a problem, the more time you have to find other alternatives.  This is a service that all airlines offer, and they will notify you as far in advance as possible that you may need to change flights.  By using these services you will have better choices of alternate flights.

#3- Stay calm.  Airlines do their best to reaccommodate each passenger delayed due to weather.  Tell yourself to “chill” when dealing with the airline representatives.  The weather is not their fault and yelling and being demanding won’t get you anywhere.  Treat them with respect and you will be treated with respect and find them more willing to help you.

#4- Be ready to change plans ahead of time.  Pay attention to the weather, and if you discover conditions are going to be bad, check your airline’s website to see if they have enacted a flexible rebooking policy.  Many airlines do so in poor weather.  Waivers allow fliers ticketed to certain airports to make a change to their itineraries with no penalty.  Also, if you can fly a day or two earlier or later, it may be worth changing your ticket to move your travel away from the time of the storm.  Or, if you want to postpone your trip altogether, the airlines sometimes waive the change fee and give you the option of using the value of your ticket toward a future flight.

#5- Consider alternate airports.  If you and a storm are both headed for Boston, will the storm also hit Providence and/or Manchester?   If JFK in New York is fogged in, how about LaGuardia, Newark, Hartford or even Philadelphia?  If you can’t get into San Francisco, what about Oakland or San Jose?

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CRUISE LINES GONE CRAZY
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line says in spite of the fact that they are booking more cruise passengers than ever, they are actually making less money this year than a year ago.  Why?  Because there are so many competitors offering so many discounts and perks, they have had to offer huge specials of their own in order to fill up their ships.
WHAT DOES IT MEANIt means it’s a shoppers paradise right now!  It means, without exaggeration, that taking a cruise vacation will get you more and cost you less than ever in the history of all vacations.
WHAT ARE THEY OFFERINGLet’s take them one by one:
Norwegian Cruise Line calls it “Freestyle Choice:” – Book a cruise to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska in an oceanview or higher cabin (anything but inside) and choose one of three offers, or book a Europe cruise in an oceanview or higher cabin and choose two offers:  1, up to a $200 on board credit; 2, a free beverage package; 3, a free dinning package in their specialty restaurants.  On a seven day cruise, that dinning package would amount to about $350.
Princess Cruises – It’s the 50th Anniversary of The Love Boat and they are offering up to a $500 per person savings, depending on the initial price of the stateroom; free specialty dining for 2; as well as up to a $200 onboard credit (money that can be spent for anything your cruise ship is selling, including shore excursions, but not for the casino), and, of course, the actual amount depends on the price of the stateroom.
Celebrity Cruises is having what they call a “1 2 3 Go” promotion – oceanview or higher bookings get one or more bonuses including a beverage package (up to $88 per day, including beer, wine and cocktails, as well as specialty drinks), prepaid gratuities, onboard credit up to $300, plus free Internet for third and fourth passengers.
Royal Caribbean (RCCL)has extended their “Vow to Wow” sale (originally set to end on January 31st) – book a cruise for two and the second guest goes for half off.  Plus, get up to a $200 onboard credit to spend any way you’d like and a 50-percent reduced deposit to hold your booking.
More than ever, cruises offer so much at very affordable prices:  a floating hotel room, fine dining, plus nightly entertainment, as well as other onboard fun, and exotic ports of call, all at fabulously low prices.  It’s certainly a way you can enjoy luxury at a very reasonable cost.
A great way to check out your own cruise possibilities is by using the Columbus Travel cruise search engine on the home page of this website (columbusvacations.com).  Choose the destination you want, then the cruise line, if you have a favorite, the time of year, and finally the length of cruise.  Then click the “GO” tab and every cruise fitting your criteria will appear for your browsing enjoyment.  When I find one I like, I call a Columbus Travel agent, and discuss it.  I’m given some tips and suggestions to enhance my choice, and then I book it (after, of course, getting final approval from my better half).  I only act after getting the “okay” from the boss.
Note:  All of the above promotions are set to expire at the end of February, 2015.

 

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THREE WAYS TO GET A SHORE EXCURSION

Shore excursions have become a major travel commodity over the last fifteen years.  Most cruises themselves, due to furious competition, have become so low in cost, the cruise companies have had to turn to other ways of making money, and these various trips at ports-of-call have become one of the major ways for them to stay solvent.  But, of course, this has resulted in additional competition for them.

There are basically three ways to get a shore excursion:

1. FROM THE CRUISE SHIP

This is definitely the most expensive option, but it is also often the most reliable.  Shore excursions purchased from the cruise ship will usually be marked up anywhere from 33 to 50-percent by the cruise line – that will be their share of your money.  However, if there is a sight-seeing or adventure on which you have your heart set (like:  “This is why I’m going on this cruise!”), you really should purchase it from the ship.  They will have contracted with this provider many times, so you can be reasonably confident about what you are getting.  This provider will also want to make sure you have an enjoyable excursion in order to insure that the cruise company will keep using them.  Plus, you can be sure, no matter what happens, the ship will not leave port until your shore excursion has returned.

2. WHEN YOU DISEMBARK

When your ship is docked at a port of call and after people who have purchased shore excursions onboard have been escorted off the ship, everyone else will be allowed to disembark.  Usually, there are people near the dock vying for dollars, who will escort you on a trip.  Sometimes, they might be the same providers who are guiding groups who purchased the excursion from the cruise ship.  This is almost always the least expensive way to go on a guided or escorted shore excursion.  I’ve done this, and it’s always worked out to be okay . . . for me; but, you have no guarantee; and if the car, van or bus breaks down, you definitely have no guarantee that the ship will wait for you to get back.

3. FROM OTHER PROVIDERS

Since shore excursions have become such a big deal, as you can imagine, providing them has become competitive.  There are non-cruise line-related companies that have arisen to provide shore excursions.  Companies such as shoretrips.com, shoreexcursiongroup.com or cruisingexcursions.com, etc. (you can find them through an internet search engine).  Larger travel agencies like Columbus Travel have started offering to find shore excursions for clients who are interested in saving some money – they virtually always cost less than purchasing them from the cruise line.  The agents have developed a history of reliability with these shore trip providers, so you will have more assurance of reliability.  The big advantage to these “other providers” is that you will probably save some money.

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