Thursday, January 29, 2009

Holland America Named Best Cruise Value

World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society (WOCLS) members named Holland America Line as the Best Overall Cruise Value for the 17th year in a row for its premium cruise experience.

"It's a tremendous achievement to be recognized by the members of theWorld Ocean and Cruise Liner Society once again," said Richard D.Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guestprograms. "The recognition of the society members year after year speaks to the continued relevance of Holland America Line to today'stravelers and commitment to investing in our product through programs such as Signature of Excellence and expanding our fleet and itineraries."

WOCLS is a 29-year-old organization comprised of thousands of experienced cruisers who average taking two cruises a year. The society reviews all cruise lines annually and noted in its monthly publication, Ocean and Cruise News, that "Holland America Linep assengers continue to mention the excellent value that the line provides, they easily win again within this category. Further adding to the sense of value is the consistency of the product across its entire fleet of ships."

Thomas Cassidy, editor of Ocean and Cruise News, wrote, "Some of the elements that combine to make Holland America Line the best overall cruise value include its effort to continually improve such as its fleet wide Signature of Excellence upgrades, the impeccable appearance of its ships, its friendly well-trained Indonesian and Filipino crew,the extra effort to properly train and supervise its staff, the more extensive choice of dinner menus in its restaurant, alternative restaurant and Lido, and all the little extras such as canvas totebags, hot hors d'oeuvres at cocktail time, chilled beer glasses, a no-charge ice cream bar and later lunch hours when in port."

Holland America Line also received top marks in the High-Deluxe,5-Star, Large Ships category during the annual Best Cruise Valueawards by the World Ocean and Cruise Liner Society.

Holland America Line's fleet of 14 ships offers nearly 500 cruises to320 ports in more than 100 countries, territories or dependencies. Two-to 108-day itineraries visit all seven continents, and highlights include Antarctica, South America, Australia/New Zealand and Asia voyages; a Grand World Voyage; and popular sailings to ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, Europe andPanama Canal. A 15th ship, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2010.

Fleetwide, the company features Signature of Excellence enhancements,a commitment totaling more than $525 million, that showcase theCulinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine -- a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen where more than 60 celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes -- Explorations Cafe powered by The New York Times, teens-only activity areas and all new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top Mariner's Dream Beds.

Holland America Line is a member of the exclusive World's Leading Cruise Lines alliance, which also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises,Cunard Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and Costa Cruises. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, these lines appeal to a wide range of lifestyles and budgets. The World's Leading Cruise Lines offer exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations.

For more information contact a Professional Travel Agent.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama Election Boosts Travel to the USA

On the day of his inauguration into office, US President, Barack Obama is changing attitudes to the US in more ways than one, according to a 10,000-strong poll by over-50s holiday company Saga.

Recent research conducted by Saga Holidays shows that over the last 8 years, its own passengers have been abandoning the USA with custom down 71%. Since the election of Barack Obama in November, the Populus poll, conducted in December indicates a much greater interest in travelling to the US with 98% saying that they are just as likely or more likely to visit the country citing his election as the reason. Over one in ten stated his election has made travel to the US much more likely with London showing the greatest enthusiasm.

Friday, January 23, 2009

High Speed Channel Tunnel Services Will Resume Next Month

The Channel Tunnel will become fully operational to high speed trains again as of late next month, after the completion of fire damage repairs.
Eurostar is to resume full high speed services through the tunnel beginning February 23.

For more information, or to book your next trip to Europe, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Monday, January 19, 2009

World's 10 Best Airports

1. Hong Kong International, China
This airport ranks at the top because of the free wireless internet, pay-to-use arrival lounge, express train service right into downtown Hong Kong, as well as plenty of shopping and a good mix of international and regional eateries.

2. Singapore Changi International, Singapore
This airport has terminals catering to luxury passengers and budget travelers alike. Some of the amenities include an indoor orchid garden, rooftop swimming pool, TV lounges, and even a free sightseeing tour for passengers with at least a 5 hour layover.

3.Seoul Incheon, South Korea
Some of the main features of this airport are the 72-hole golf course, a childrens playroom, a hair salon on-site, business centers, showers and massage services.

4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This airport has some of the best immigration services, offering international passengers very smooth arrivals and departures. Airport services include free wi-fi, luxury shopping, ample dining and even massage services.

5. Munich, Germany
Some of great the amenities include miniature golf, a cinema, cosmetic services and even a doggy bar. This ariport promotes aviation history & technology, with airport tours available, and even "kinderterminals", which are touch screens that help kids understand how the airport works.

6.Kansai (Osaka), Japan
Built on a man-made island and opened just 15 years ago, the Kansai airport offers onsite doctors and dentist offices, a pet hotel, DVD & movie rentals and VIP meeting rooms.

7.Copenhagen, Denmark
This airport features beautiful architecture and art through out, polished wooed floors, upscale shopping and many dining options.

8.Zurich, Switzerland
Not only can one get a day room with a kitchenette here, but childcare services are available in nurseries and playrooms with trained childcare providers. This airport also offers extra services for VIP's such as limousine services and a VIP lounge.

9.Helsinki, Finland
Something that makes this airport very unique is the meditation room, offering passengers a quiet place to relax. There are also several working lounges with pay as you use internet access and also plenty of dining and shopping options.

10.Cape Town, South Africa
This airport has porters that will tranfer your luggage from one terminal to another for a minimal fee. There is also a medical clinic onsite, as well as many restaurants and lounges.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your next trip!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

World's First Airplane Hotel Opens!

One of the world's coolest hotels has just opened in Sweden, The Jumbo Hostel is the first hotel of its kind!

This converted Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet is located at the highway entrance to the Stockholm Arlanda Airport and features 25 rooms, each accomodating up to 3 adults, all with seperate shared shower and toilet facilities, as well as quad dormitory-style rooms, a luxury suite in the converted cockpit with a panoramic view of the airport, and a cafe and lounge.
Standard rooms start around $130.00 USD per night.

Tours are also available for those not spending the night, but reservations must be made in advance.

For more information, you can either check out the Jumbo Hostel Website, or contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Carnival Offers Unprecedented Early Booking Savings

Carnival Cruise lines has launched their Early Saver Booking program, which offers fares up to 25% lower than their best available rates, and will provide rate protection if rates drop below the original price paid by the consumer.

Early Saver rates will be available beginning today, January 12, and offered up to three months prior to sailing date for cruises of five days or less and up to five months prior to sailing date for longer length voyages, subject to availability. All state room types qualify for this program, including suites.

The Early Saver rate protection feature provides that if a lower Carnival advertised rate becomes available after the booking is made, a rate adjustment can be requested and the cruise line will issue the difference in the form of a shipboard credit. The lower fare must be for the same ship, sailing date, stateroom category and number of guests.

To request a lower price, a rate-protection form must be completed and emailed to Carnival up to two business days prior to departure. This form can be found online.

This is a fantastic savings opportunity for those who are able to plan ahead and book early!

Contact a Cruise Specialist to start planning your next cruise today!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Five Great Spas for Post-Holiday Recovery

By Marnie Hunter

Feeling sluggish after a few too many eggnogs and a halt to your fitness routine?

January can be a bleak month to get rolling on those resolutions, so perhaps you need a little spa getaway to recover from the holiday revelry and get yourself pointed in the right direction for 2009.

CNN asked Mary Bemis, editor-in-chief of Organic Spa magazine, to recommend five places to unwind and detoxify after the busy holiday season.

Gurney's Inn, Montauk, New York
This unpretentious spa on the tip of Montauk boasts a stunning waterfront location in the Hamptons, but it's how this spa uses seawater that sets it apart.
"They are one of the only true spas in North America to offer thalassotherapy, which is highly detoxifying," Bemis said. Thalassotherapy uses mineral-rich seawater and seaweed to enhance good health.

Day visitors to the resort can purchase a pass for $30 to gain access to the Russian steam room, the Finnish rock sauna and indoor heated seawater pool. A full menu of spa treatments is available, including a seaweed wrap or seawater hydrotherapy massage, each for $75.

The combined 90-minute Marine Kur therapy, which includes exfoliation, a powerful shower that stimulates nerves, a massage performed while the client is immersed in a tub of 94-degree seawater and a full seaweed body wrap, runs $220. The 110-minute Ultimate Detox treatment uses clay mined in northern France rather than the seaweed in the sequence above for $285.

Red Mountain Spa, Ivins, Utah
This destination spa nestled among the red rocks in Ivins, Utah, offers a full lifestyle package.

"If you really want to make a life change and you really want to learn how to not only detoxify, but eat better, exercise, it's a great program," Bemis said.

While there are some day treatments, only overnight guests can take full advantage of the spa's many programs, including guided hikes and wellness classes.

Through February 28, the spa is offering rates starting at $199 per person, per night, which includes accommodation, three meals daily, unlimited fitness classes, guided hikes and other programs.

Spa Montage, Laguna Beach, California
This luxurious oceanfront spa offers a beautiful setting, delicious spa cuisine and a range of relaxing and restorative treatments in both indoor and outdoor facilities.
"This is a very high-end, lovely experience," Bemis said.

The staff will customize treatments to a visitor's particular needs and will show guests how to maximize the benefits of the spa's water circuit. The 60-minute Art of Spa treatment, which uses water at different temperatures to help the body balance itself, is $190.

"You're using heat and water to detoxify yourself. So you're spending, say, 15 minutes in the sauna or the steam room and then you come out and do a cold plunge," Bemis said. This cycle is repeated several times for maximum effect.

Check into the resort for one or more nights of luxury, or gain access to the spa, spa pool and the lounge areas, stream room and sauna with the purchase of a 60-minute spa treatment.

La Playa resort guests can enjoy a range of treatments at the intimate SpaTerre, right on the Gulf of Mexico.

The spa offers a menu of Global Rituals, including a volcanic earth clay treatment (80 minutes, $220) that includes a detoxifying volcanic clay body mask, a Balinese foot massage, an aromatic shower and a traditional Balinese massage.

Bemis enjoys the option of adding a Japanese soaking tub ritual before or after a massage. Fresh flower petals and aromatherapy essence are added to the soothing soak.

Bemis calls this spa, which is in a sheltered valley an hour's drive from San Diego, "the great-grandma of all destination spas."

Founded in 1940, Rancho La Puerta welcomes guests from Saturday to Saturday, providing a full week to reset and learn about healthy living.

"It's a beautiful location, they have organic gardens and organic food. It's just set up to really take stock of your life and to change what needs to be changed," Bemis said.
Doubles start at $2,795 per person for the week, including all meals, guided hikes, fitness classes, evening programs and transportation to and from San Diego International Airport.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to start planning your next Spa Vacation!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

U.S. Department of State Issues Travel Warning for Israel

On January 6, 2009 the Department of State alerts U.S. citizens that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is engaged in a military operation against terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. This operation began on December 27, 2008, with aerial and naval bombardment, and expanded on January 3, 2009, to include ground operations. Since the December 19, 2008, expiration of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, terrorist organizations have launched ongoing rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens traveling to and within Israel and the West Bank to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. No official U.S. Government travel is permitted within the Gaza Strip. Due to the ongoing conflict and limited ability of the U.S. Government to assist American citizens in the Gaza Strip, the Department of State urges American citizens, including journalists and aid workers, to avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip. This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2009.

Americans in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should be vigilant about security at all times. They should monitor local news, vary their routes and times, and consider the level of security when visiting crowded public places, such as shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, or entertainment venues. Some American citizens in Gaza and their immediate family members were assisted in departing Gaza on January 2, 2009. American citizens remaining in Gaza should consider notifying the Consulate General in Jerusalem at the address below of their whereabouts in the event they wish to participate in possible future evacuations of foreign nationals from the Gaza Strip.

American citizens are advised to maintain valid travel documents and register with the Department of State or U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/U.S. Consulate Jerusalem through the State Department's travel registration website, By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy and the Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903. The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem is located at 27 Nablus Road, Jerusalem 94190.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Passport Rules Go Into Effect in 2009

As of June 1, 2009 the U.S. Department of State will begin to implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), basically the new U.S. Passport laws.

This will primarily effect cruise passengers, and those traveling between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. Currently U.S. citizens can travel via cruise ships, or drive accross the borders with simply a birth certificate and photo ID. However, after June 1st everyone will be required to have a valid Passport, or the new Passport Card.

If you need to get a new U.S. Passport or renew yours in 2009, make sure to allow plenty of time, as it sounds like the Passport Agencies are getting pretty backed up.

See the U.S. Department of State's latest Press Release on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Delta Will Cut Capacity in 2009

Delta has laid out plans to cut capacity in 2009 by 8% to 10% on domestic routes and by 3% to 5% on international routes. The cuts will be made on routes that have the least fuel-efficient flights. The reason is, of course current economic global conditions and a decline in demand. American has already said it would be cutting domestic demand by about 8.5% in 2009 but would only cut international by about 1%.