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Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov is located in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It’s a small, well-preserved medieval city about 175 km south of Prague and Old Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 13th century Český Krumlov Castle rises high above a town that is filled with Renaissance-era buildings.

The central part of the town is built around the base of the castle on the horseshoe bend of the Vltava River. The historical town center, with its small narrow lanes, is a car-free zone. While there are still a few delivery vehicles driving through, you can walk through the city center and explore streets filled with traditional shops, galleries, restaurants and pubs.

There are outdoor cafes, museums and nice hotels surrounding the large town square. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few days exploring but it can also be reached by river cruisers on excursions from the Danube River itineraries.

Contact Pete for more details:

Pete Larson, CTA, DS, LS

Certified Travel Associate

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

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New Website Launch: Now LIVE!

The new www.JollyMonVacations.com website makeover is complete.

Please go check it out and tell me what you think. I’ll be tweaking it as needed to perfect it and to update content regularly.

What is new?

  • New, updated look.
  • New Social Media Center on Home page.
  • Complete remodel of the River Cruise Guru page/tab.
  • SPECIALS page refreshed with links at the bottom for researching/booking yourself. (for the serious DIY’ers)
  • New PHOTO & VIDEO page with updated trip photos & videos.
  • New BLOG link to find this BLOG easily.
  • Floating side links to easily SHARE the content on your social media sites, like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and others.

Please use the site and share with your friends! We are watching and will randomly award prizes for sharing our content!

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Welcome to the New Website Launch!

Jolly Mon Vacations and River Cruise Guru has just undergone a website makeover!
We are about to launch the new site within days. Putting the finishing touches on the new photo gallery and then we’ll go LIVE.

We’ve updated both the look, functionality and content. We’ve also added in a tab to get to our BLOG here. We are excited and look forward to hearing your comments.

Stay tuned for more info. You can find the site at: www.JollyMonVacations.com
Thanks for your support!

Please share the news!
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Pete Larson, CTA, DS, LS
Certified Travel Associate
Owner, Jolly Mon Vacations / River Cruise Guru
Phone: 218-779-3050
Email: pete@jollymonvacations.com
www.JollyMonVacations.com

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2013 River Cruise News

viking-river-cruise
Scenic Tours
Scenic Tours has recently launched their USA program for 2014; unrivalled, five-star and all-inclusive with a fantastic new itinerary that has introduced Mississippi River Cruising.

Luxury cruise operator Scenic Cruises introduced its 2014 itineraries, focusing on the debut of two new ships and launch of five new itineraries focusing on historic European cities

European Waterways
is offering a $1,000 discount on six-night cruises on the eight-passenger Enchanté hotel barge on the Canal du Midi in France

Avalon Waterways
Avalon Waterways has announced that respected Jewish author and lecturer Inge Auerbacher will join their annual Jewish Heritage Cruise this October .

Avalon Waterways has cancelled its river cruises in Egypt through September, “given the current unstable situation in Cairo.

Viking
Viking Cruises has signed on as the official cruise line sponsor of The Hollywood Bowl for the 2013 concert season.

KfW IPEX-Bank has announced it is financing the construction of 10 river cruise vessels of the type Viking Longship Class for the Swiss shipping company Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises, the industry’s largest river cruise line, will tack in a new direction with ambitious plans to introduce a new ocean-going cruise line.

Tauck Tours
For the second time in three years, Tauck has been named the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine

Tauck said its two riverboats launching next year in Europe would have 57 percent more suites than its existing Jewel-class vessels. The new Savor and Inspire – the Inspiration class – will each have 22 suites measuring 300 square feet.

Tauck has announced a new 16-day land and sea exploration of Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore centered around an 11-day cruise aboard the new luxury small ship, Le Soléal.

Tauck is further extending its partnership with filmmaker Ken Burns with a new 11-day cultural exploration of the Mississippi River that is part of Tauck’s Ken Burns American Journeys collection

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises Uniworld Boutique River Cruises newest ship on Portugal’s Douro River, Queen Isabel, was named by Hollywood actress, L’Oreal spokes model, and philanthropist, Andie MacDowell, in Porto, Portugal.

In 2014, Uniworld will expand their services and amenities to include unlimited fine wine, beer, and spirits, and all gratuities for all onboard and onshore services, including pre- and post-cruise extensions.

AmaWaterwaysAmaWaterays and its Portuguese partner DouroAzul christened its newest ship, the AmaVida, with actress Sharon Stone.

AmaWaterways has released its full 2014 Europe, Russia, Africa and Southeast Asia brochure that includes details on two new vessels-the 164-passenger AmaSonata and AmaReina.

Contact us for our free e-newsletter or comments!
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Wine Theme River Cruises 2013

ama-waterways-wine-cruise-12-13-12

The river cruise line, AmaWaterways has announced a roster of wine hosts for its 2013 “In Celebration on Wine” theme cruises. The river cruise line will host 21 wine-themed itineraries through Europe’s wine regions this year, each hosted by a different wine expert from the U.S. or Europe.

The 2013 season has new excursions on Portugal’s Douro River and France’s Seine River, in addition to the company’s other unforgettable itineraries along the Danube, Mosel, Rhine and Rhone Rivers.

AmaWaterways’ 2013 wine hosts for the “In Celebration of Wine” itineraries and dates are as follows:

March 29: Legendary Wine & Regions of the Rhone

James Cluer, MW of Fine Vintages. Cluer took his first Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) course at age 18, became a Master of Wine (MW) several years later, and has been working in the wine industry since 1988.

April 2: Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas

George Sandeman of the House of Sandeman. Over the past two centuries, Sandeman Port and Sherries has become one of the world’s best known brands. George Sandeman is the seventh generation of his family to head the company.

April 5: Paris & the Sparkling Seine

Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Barbara, Calif. Food & Wine magazine named Clendenen “Winemaker of the Year” in 2001; Germany’s leading wine magazine, Wein Gourmet, named him “Winemaker of the World” in 2004; and in 2007, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.”

April 12 & Nov. 1: Paris & the Sparkling Seine

Preston Mohr, an American wine expert now based in Paris, holds an Advanced Certificate from the WSET and is currently studying for his Diploma, to be completed in June 2013. One of his specialties is French Champagne.

April 13: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Gary and Marcy Eberle of Eberle Winery in Paso Robles, Calif. More than 33 years after the release of its first vintage, this award-winning winery remains one of the most highly regarded winemakers in the United States.

Oct. 31: Castles & Wineries of Germany

Len and Marisa Crispino of Foreign Affairs Winery. After living as ex-pats in Italy in the early 1990s, Len and Marisa returned to Ontario and planted their first vines. Inspired by the Italian wine-making process, they use a unique grape drying process known as appassimento (or the Reductio method).

Nov. 5: Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas

Brian Heath of Grape Creek Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas. This Texas Hill Country winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and also boasts the first underground commercial barrel cellar in central Texas.

Nov. 6: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Eric Glomski, owner of Page Springs Cellars & Arizona Stronghold, specializes in producing Rhone-style Arizona wines. Eric will co-host withSam Pillsbury, New Zealand film director (Free Willy) and owner of Pillsbury WineCompany.

Nov. 7: Vineyards of the Rhine & Mosel

Carissa Chappellet of Chappellet Winery in Napa, an estate known for its Bordeaux varietals and its Cabernet Sauvignon. Chappellet and her brothers inherited the winery from their parents, founders Don and Molly Chappellet. She will co-host with Archie McLaren, founder and chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic.

Nov. 8: Legendary Wine Regions of the Rhone

Gerryand Rosie Wilson of Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, Calif. Wilson Creek’s famous Almond Champagne and other unique vintages have garnered numerous prestigious international wine awards.

Nov. 8: Paris & the Sparkling Seine

Jean-Marc & Kristi Espinasse of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. Rouge-Bleu has been awarded many gold medals in France and its wines have been ranked 90+ points more than four times in Wine Spectator.

Nov. 9: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Boband Jodi Dickinson are event chairs for Camillus House Auction, which raises funds for nonprofit organizations in southern Florida. Past auction items have included a rare collection of Chateau Haut Brion, which sold for more than $59,000.

Nov. 11: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Stephanie and Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard & Winery in Napa, known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Stephanie has a WSET Higher Certificate and Diploma and has many years of experience in the industry. Michael is often referred to as “the James Brown of the wine industry” and is a leader in sustainable farming.

Nov. 13: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Christopher Silva, President & CEO of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma County, Calif. The winery’s products have earned a reputation as top quality varietal wines that are bold flavored and fruit-forward.

Nov. 15: Culture & Wine Legacy of the Rhine

Holly Howellis a columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York and an authority on the wines of the Finger Lakes region, particularly Rieslings. She also teaches food and wine classes and makes her own wine.

Nov. 16: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Barry Wiss, Certified Wine Educator, VP of communications & trade relations for Trinchero Family Estates, a winery established in 1947. The Trinchero family estates represent more than 27 brands in the US and Australia, including Sutter Home, Menage a Trois, and Napa Cellars.

Nov. 18: Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube

Vic Poulos of Zin Valle Vineyards in El Paso, Texas. Poulos owns and operates the Zin Valle Vineyards winery and also writes about wine for local and national publications.

Nov. 22: Culture & Wine Legacy of the Rhine

Mark Johnson of Chateau Chantal Winery in Michigan. Trained at the Geisenheim Research Institute in Germany, Johnson has been the winemaker at Chateau Chantal since it opened in 1986.

Nov. 22: Legendary Wine Regions of the Rhone

Lee Fuqua of Fuqua Winery. Lee Fuqua’s boutique Texas winery produces what he calls “wines with an attitude” – big, rich, full-bodied wines that satisfy serious wine drinkers.

The River Cruise Guru is a certified River Cruise Specialist and we are here to assist you FREE of charge with your river cruise. River cruising is our specialty!

Contact us today for more information at:
phone: 218-779-3050
email: pete@rivercruiseguru.com
facebook: www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru
website: www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

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AMAWATERWAYS UNVEILS “WHAT’S NEW” FOR 2013-2014

Amabella
Amabella

River cruise line announces new ships, programs, pricing, amenities, marketing materials and more
Contact us today, we are certified River Cruise Specialists available to you at NO FEE! www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

CHATSWORTH, CA – (Jan. 22, 2013) – Family-owned and operated river cruise line AmaWaterways today announced a robust list of new developments for its 2013 and 2014 seasons, including new pricing, itineraries, discounts, ships, amenities, land programs, theme cruises and marketing tools.

New 2014 Pricing, Itineraries & Discounts: Prices and itineraries for 2014 cruises are now available online.

New Ships: AmaWaterways will debut two new ships in Amsterdam and Portugal in 2013. The 164-passenger AmaPrima (sister ship to the AmaCerto) will make its maiden voyage on April 3, 2013 in Amsterdam, with a special christening celebration Aug. 6, 2013. The 106-passenger AmaVida will make its debut on March 26, 2013 in Porto, Portugal. The AmaPrima will service 10 itineraries: Tulip Time Cruise, Melodies of the Danube, The Romantic Danube, Blue Danube Discovery, The Legendary Danube, Magnificent Europe, Grand Danube Cruise, Black Sea Voyage, Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube, and Christmas Time Cruise. The AmaVida will service four itineraries on the Douro River: Port Wine & Flamenco, Enticing Douro, Impressions of France & Portugal and Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas.

The AmaSonata and AmaReina (sister ships to the AmaCerto) will debut in Europe in 2014. These deluxe 164-passenger ships will feature Twin Balcony Staterooms and Suites, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary creations, complimentary fine wine and beer at lunch and dinner, multiple dining venues, a heated pool with swim-up bar, massage and beauty salon, fitness center, free in-room Internet and Infotainment, and a fleet of bicycles for guests to borrow and enjoy. The AmaSonata will travel the Danube and Rhine Rivers on seven itineraries: Tulip Time Cruise, Melodies of the Danube, The Romantic Danube, Blue Danube Discovery, The Legendary Danube, Magnificent Europe and Christmas Time Cruise. The AmaReina will serve The Enchanting Rhine seven-night itinerary.

New Amenities: Starting in 2013, AmaWaterways offers complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner and lunch on its European fleet (except for the AmaVida and AmaKatarina).

New Land Programs: Starting in 2014, AmaWaterways will offer a second optional land extension on its “Provence & Spain” itinerary – two nights in Marseille, France.

New Theme Cruises: AmaWaterways has expanded its theme cruise options for both 2013 & 2014.

• “In Celebration of Wine” Cruises: (21 departures in 2013)

• Harvest Wine Cruises on Portugal’s Douro River (two departures in October 2013)

• Jewish Heritage Cruises on the Danube River (four departures in 2013)

• Tulips & Jazz Cruise aboard the AmaCerto on April 22, 2013 is produced by Jazzdagen Tours and features two complimentary onboard jazz performances every evening.

• Gourmet Cruise with celebrity chef Bob Blumer, who will bring his passion for food and cooking demonstrations to guests aboard the AmaVida in Portugal on October 22, 2013.

• Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise (2014) on April 28, 2014 is a chocolate-themed “Romantic Danube” itinerary onboard the AmaCerto, featuring expert host Norman Love of Norman Love Confections, maker of artisanal, handcrafted gourmet chocolates.

To book a cruise, please contact our certified River Cruise Specialist or visit www.rivercruiseguru.com.
All our expertise and experience will not cost you a cent. NO FEES!

About AmaWaterways

Founded in 2002 by river cruise pioneers Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy, AmaWaterways is the premier river cruise line on Europe’s Danube, Douro, Main, Mosel, Seine, Rhine and Rhône rivers. Known for its custom-designed ships, extensive complimentary amenities and impeccable service, family-owned and -operated AmaWaterways consistently leads the way in river cruising. With itineraries in Europe, Russia, Africa, and S.E. Asia, AmaWaterways offers an enticing variety of authentic, in-depth experiences for the most discriminating travelers.

AmaWaterways’ European fleet includes the AmaSonata (2014); AmaReina (2014); AmaPrima (2013); AmaCerto (2012); AmaVerde (2011); AmaBella (2010); AmaLyra (2009); AmaDolce (2009); AmaCello (2008), AmaDante (2008); AmaLegro (2007) and the AmaDagio (2006). The line’s newest ships feature Twin Balcony Staterooms, multiple dining venues, complimentary in-room Internet and Infotainment, a heated swimming pool or whirlpool, plus many more unique design elements.

AmaWaterways’ separate and distinct AmaVoyages division operates the AmaVida (2013) in Portugal, the AmaLotus (2011) and La Marguerite (2009) in Vietnam and Cambodia, the AmaKatarina (2011) in Russia, and the Zambezi Queen (2009) in Africa.

Pete Larson
River Cruise Specialist
pete@rivercruiseguru.com
218-779-3050

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
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Scenic Cruises is Upgrading European Riverboats

Onboard Scenic Crystal...the first River Café by River Cruise Guru Onboard Scenic Crystal…the first River Café by River Cruise Guru[/caption]Scenic Cruises is spending $10 million to rebuild five “Space Ships” with the same features and specifications of its newest ships, the Scenic Crystal and soon-to-launch Scenic Jewel. The five ships undergoing work — Scenic Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Ruby and Pearl — are only 18 months to four years old. The Scenic Crystal entered service in April 2012, while the Scenic Jewel is due out this April.

The five ships will get a new casual eatery, the River Café, which is open all day. Portobello’s, the 30-seat Italian restaurant, has been upgraded, while the main restaurant has enhanced omelet and carver stations. Also added to the ships is Table La Rive, which will serve a six-course degustation menu.

Cabins (except those on Scenic Emerald) have been redone with new wallpaper, marble-desk tops and side tables, furniture, carpets and 32-inch Samsung HD TVs linked to MiniMac computers for in-cabin email and Internet. What’s more, the cabins will get the “Sun-Lounges,” which allow guests to convert their private balcony into an indoor lounge with the push of a button.

All Royal and Panorama Suites were expanded and rebuilt to Crystal/Jewel specifications. The lounge has a new upgraded bar done with marble, additional coffee machines, and more wine dispensers. The lobby areas also are renovated with new floors, reception desks, wallpaper, artwork and light fixtures. The ships will also get new carpet, curtains and designer furniture throughout. The ships also offer a number of technical upgrades including an upgraded Wi-Fi system using both Satellite and UMTS Mobile technology for faster speeds, and new equipment in the galleys, such as pizza ovens.

In 2013, Scenic Cruises offers unlimited complimentary beverages (top-shelf brands are additional), private butler service for every guest, 24-hour room service, new themed dinners with entertainment, a personal GPS guided tour system providing commentary on passing sites, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The GPS system is not available on Scenic Emerald in France.

FREE RIVER CRUISE PLANNING, BOOKING AND ADVICE!
Contact The River Cruise Guru! We are certified by the river cruise lines as
RIVER CRUISE SPECIALISTS!
Don’t settle for anything less! We will get you the best value and price available and we offer unbiased river cruise advice on cruise lines, ships and itineraries.

CONTACT US TODAY!
Phone (or text): 218-779-3050
email: pete@rivercruiseguru.com
Website: www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
facebook: www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

The River Cruise Guru is a specialty branch of Jolly Mon Vacations!
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8 Tips on How to Go Through Customs & Immigration

customsWhen you arrive at your island destination you will need to clear immigration & customs. Each country is a little different, but the process is very similar. You can expedite this process by being properly prepared.
Preparation begins when you pack for your trip and if you plan to purchase any duty-free items in the U.S airport. Every island has different restrictions on what you can bring in “duty-free”. Each island also has “prohibited items”.

Depending on the airport and/or airline you depart from you may need to pick up your own immigration and customs forms at the gate prior to boarding. Other times they are distributed by flight attendants once you are in the air. Don’t forget to bring an ink pen to fill out the forms!

You will need to fill out an immigration form for each passenger. Go slow to avoid mistakes. Date format is often different from what you may be used to. Be sure to sign form. Some countries, like Jamaica, have a separate immigration card attached to form. You need to fill it out as well or you will be delayed at immigration. For most countries you will also need to fill out customs form. These are generally per family, but if you passports have different surnames you may want to fill one out for each different name. You most likely will have nothing to declare.

When you arrive at destination, proceed to immigration. Cell phones and cameras may not be used in immigration and customs areas. Please stay behind line and wait for next available immigration agent. You will need to present you passport and forms. Be polite and answer any questions asked. Once through immigration you can put your passports away in safe place. Keep customs forms handy.

Proceed to the baggage claim area. Make sure you get all your bags and that they are YOUR bags. You can grab a cart to make it easier. Check to see if customs exit has “Nothing to Declare” lines and get in line. Depending on county, the customs official will review your customs form and/or interview you. On occasion the customs agents may want to perform a physical inspection of you luggage.

8 Tips on How to Go Through US Customs & Immigration

1
Onboard your flight, you will be given customs and immigration documents. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, then you will need to fill out an I-94 form. If you are a U.S. Citizen, then you do not need this form. All passengers must also complete a customs declaration form. This form is required for both U.S. and Foreign citizens. Make sure to have the required documents completed before you enter the customs and immigration facilities.

2
When you deplane, follow the signs directing you to international arrivals, immigration and customs. Most often, you will walk through a hallway or go down an escalator to the customs and immigration facilities. In rare circumstances (mostly at smaller, more poorly run airports), you will need to ride a bus.

3
The first stop is at Passport Control/Immigration. If you are a U.S. Citizen, go to the lanes marked United States Citizens. If you are non-U.S. Citizen, go to the lanes marked Foreign Citizens. If you have another flight to connect with, there are sometimes special lanes for Connecting Passengers.

4
Give your passport and immigration/customs forms to the officer. He/she will look at your passport, scan it, and possibly validate it. He/she will also retain any I-94 forms, and validate and return the customs forms.

5
After you clear Passport Control, follow the signs to Baggage Claim. Here, you will claim your checked baggage, even if you have another flight to connect with. Check the screens for the carousel number that your flight has been assigned to and wait for your bags to appear.

6
Once you have claimed your bags, your next stop is at Customs. If you do not have any items to declare, proceed to the green lanes marked “Nothing to Declare”. If you do have items to declare, proceed to the red lanes marked “Goods to Declare”. Here, you will turn in your customs form and if you do not have anything to declare, you will be waved through to the exit.

7
If you have another flight to connect with, follow the signs marked “Connecting Flights/Connecting Baggage Drop-off” as you leave the customs area. If you are already at your final destination, skip straight to step 8. When you get to the connecting baggage carousel, be sure to place any liquids, gels, and aerosols that are over 3 oz, or any other items that are not allowed through TSA security checkpoints in your checked luggage. Check that your baggage tags match your final destination. Place your luggage on the conveyor belt, wheels or handles facing up (the bag itself should be upside down).

Continue following the signs marked Connecting Flights, and proceed through security to the departures area.

8
If you are already at your final destination, follow the exit and ground transportation signs. Once you exit the customs and immigration facilities you will be in the International Arrivals area. Here you will meet up with friends and family, or proceed to courtesy shuttles, taxis, rental cars, or other ground transportation.

For more information and FREE ASSISTANCE with your travel plans, please contact a professional travel consultant at Jolly Mon Vacations today!
No charges, no fees…just expert advice and assistance! No strings attached.

218-779-3050
pete@jollymonvacations.com
www.JollyMonVacations.com
www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

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All-inclusive resort vs cruise vacation prices

All-inclusive Resort
Jolly Mon Vacations is your ticket to savings this winter for your getaway.

“What will a week-long vacation to an all-inclusive resort cost me?”
Here are some prices for some one week getaways figured for two persons. Airfare is figured from Minneapolis, but can be purchased from most any gateway. Prices may vary greatly to deviate. There are a host of different resort and flight options but these were picked for best value and scheduling. Contact us for any specific requests or different resort options: pete@jollymonvacations.com

==========================

A week in Cancun, Mexico that won’t break the bank!
• Roundtrip NON-STOP flights for two on Sun Country Airlines from Minneapolis to Cancun, Mexico.
• Roundtrip transfers from Cancun airport to the resort. 7 nights stay arriving February 2 at the 4-star Krystal Cancun Resort in a Deluxe room.
• Price: $1,432 per person total.
• $100 deposit at booking

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A week in laid-back Negril, Jamaica…just what the doctor ordered!
• Roundtrip flights for two on US Airways from Minneapolis to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
• Roundtrip transfers from Sangster International airport to the resort in Negril.
• 7 nights stay arriving February 2 at the 4-star RIU Negril Resort in a standard room.
• Price: $1,670 per person total.
• $1,263 deposit at booking, full payment due: 19DEC12.

RIU Negril all-inclusive resort
RIU Negril all-inclusive resort

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Sunning in Montego Bay, Jamaica this winter can be a reality!
• Roundtrip flights for two on United Airlines from Minneapolis to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
• Roundtrip transfers from Sangster International airport to the resort.
• 7 nights stay arriving February 3rd at the 3.5-star Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in a Superior room. (thru Cyber Monday)
• Price: $1,371 per person total.
• $1,063 deposit at booking, full payment due: 20DEC12.

Holiday Inn  Sunspree Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica

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Looking for something completely different? How about Costa Rica?
• Roundtrip NON-STOP flights for two on Sun Country Airlines from Minneapolis to Liberia, Costa Rica.
• Roundtrip transfers from Liberia airport to the resort.
• 7 nights stay arriving February 22nd at the 4.5-star RIU Guanacaste Resort in a standard room.
• Bonus: Complimentary city tour of Liberia. (4 hours)
• Price: $1,980 per person total.
• $100 deposit at booking, full payment due: 08JAN13.

RIU Guanacaste, Costa Rica

RIU Gaunacaste Pool area

RIU Guanacaste:
Where families, spa-lovers, active travelers and couples come for sun and luxurious sand, this inviting resort provides the perfect blend of service and smiles fronting Costa Rica’s warm Pacific Coast. Nestled amidst tropical palms and fragrant gardens, guests are treated to spacious guestrooms and suites featuring a regularly restocked in-room mini-bar and liquor dispenser; a pampering spa; fun-filled children’s amenities including a playground, activity club and pool; lighted tennis courts; a disco and 24-hour, all-inclusive restaurants and bars serving delicious cuisines ranging from Asian fare to a robust Steakhouse. Creating the perfect setting for unforgettable vacation experiences, this polished resort has something for every member of the family.

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How do these all-inclusive resort prices compare to a one week cruise vacation?

-Here is a sample of what a cruise vacation actually costs:
• Ship: Ruby Princess sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean:
• Feb 3, 2013 for 7 nights. (FLL-Princess Cays-St. Maarten-St.Thomas-Grand Turk)
• Category BE Balcony: $1,210 per person cruise-only double occupancy. *
• Hotel night prior: $100 per person with free airport shuttle.
• Dinner & breakfast prior to cruise: $30 per person.
• Transfers from hotel to ship and ship to airport: $25 per person.
• Roundtrip flights from MSP-FLL: $377 per person.
• Shipboard gratuities: $80.50 per person/week.
• Water, soda, juice, specialty coffee, beer, wine, alcohol: $175 per person/week.
• Baggage gratuities/misc. gratuities: $15 per person.
• Actual total cruise vacation price: $2,013 per person.
*All soda, specialty coffee, wine, beer, liquor and some juices are extra on cruises.
Mandatory gratuities are 15% extra on beverages. If you were to drink a bottle of water, one soda and three mixed drinks each day it would add more than $25 per day, per person or $175 per person for the week. (which is added above. Adjust this according to your drinking preferences)

We advocate flying in to the port city at least one night prior to your cruise so a flight delay won’t cause you to miss your ship. We’ve added this into the overall cost above.

All-inclusive resorts generally include some other activities and tours that will cost extra aboard a ship. Each resort is different in it’s inclusions so study them closely when comparing a specific resort Vs. cruise vacation.

Some resorts, like RIU above include free Wi-Fi . Aboard ship, you will pay a premium for internet service. Since everyone does not require Wi-Fi service, this fee has been omitted above. Please add these costs onto your trip if its something you require.

Call, text or email us today if you are interested in booking your next vacation at the lowest prices available.

IMPORTANT! These prices /quotes /offers are time-sensitive and capacity controlled. They were priced on 11/25/12 and prices can rise and fall daily. All pricing and/or promotions are subject to availability at the time of booking. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise stated. Jolly Mon Vacations does not control these offers and cannot be held responsible for changes in price or terms.

Jolly Mon Vacations ALWAYS recommends that you purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance is not included in these prices but a personalized quote will be provided at request.

Jolly Mon Vacations
Call: 218.779.3050
Click: www.JollyMonVacations.com
Email: pete@jollymonvacations.com
Jolly Mon Vacations and its branch River Cruise Guru are owned and operated by Peter Larson.
The business is registered in the state of North Dakota, USA.

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12 Scams and How to Avoid Them

The holidays are just around the corner and while we are busy buying gifts and making travel arrangements, cybercriminals are making their lists, and checking them twice, as they prepare to unleash a host of scams designed to take advantage of the seasonal surge in online shopping and sharing. Since it only takes one scam to spoil your holiday season, it’s a good idea to get familiar with our list of the 12 Scams of the Holidays, and learn how to avoid them.

12 Scams:

1) Social media scams—Many of us use social media sites to connect with family and friends over the holidays, and the cybercriminals know that this is a good place to catch you off guard because we’re all “friends,” right?  Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals and phony contests since many try to get you to reveal personal information. Also, be suspicious of phony “work from home” jobs that ask you to pay for “startup kits.”

2) Malicious Mobile Apps—As the popularity of apps has grown, so have the chances that you could download a malicious app designed to steal your information or send out premium-rate text messages without your consent. Consider this: a recent study found that 33%1 of apps asked for more information than they need.

Only download applications from official app stores and check other users’ reviews, as well as the app’s permission policies, before downloading.

3) Travel Scams—Visiting family and friends is a big part of the holidays, and that often means searching online for deals on airfare and hotels. Just remember, scammers will be trying to hook you with too-good-to-be-true deals just to get you reveal your financial details. Always research the travel site but the best thing you can do is book with a trusted travel agent. They’ll save you both time and money while booking you through safe vendors.

4) Holiday Spam/Phishing— Get ready for the spam you normally receive to take on holiday themes. Cheap Rolex watches and pharmaceuticals may be advertised as the “perfect gift” for that special someone. Remember never to respond to a spam email, or click on links within the email.

5) iPhone 5, iPad and other hot holiday gift scams—The kind of excitement and buzz surrounding the new iPhone 5 is a cybercriminal’s dream. They will mention must-have holiday gifts in phony contests and on websites as a way to grab your attention, and get you to reveal personal information or click on a dangerous link.

6) Skype Message Scare—Using Skype to connect with your loved ones may seem like an innocent way to spread holiday cheer, but cybercriminals are out to spoil that too. The latest threat comes in the form of an instant message from someone you know saying, “Lol is this your new profile pic?” If you click on the included link, a malicious program is downloaded to your hard drive, and the dangerous link is sent to all of your Skype contacts. It can even hold your computer files for ransom!

7) Bogus gift cards—Gift cards are popular holiday gifts and cybercriminals want to get in on the action by offering bogus gift cards online. Be wary of buying gift cards from third parties; it’s best to buy from the official retailer.

8) Holiday SMiShing— “SMiShing” is phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, the scammer tries to lure you into revealing information by pretending to be a legitimate organization. Since many of us like to keep a close eye on our bank accounts during the holidays, be wary of SMiShing messages that appear to come from your bank, asking you to verify information or visit a phony webpage.

9) Phony E-tailers—Fake e-commerce sites will try to lure you into giving up your credit card number and other personal details, often by promoting great deals. That’s why it’s best to only shop on trusted e-commerce sites.

10) Fake charities—During the holiday season many of us open up our hearts and wallets for good causes. The bad guys know this, and send spam emails advertising fake charities. If you want to give, it’s always safer to visit the charity’s legitimate website, and do a little research about the charity before you donate.

11) Dangerous e-cards—E-Cards are a popular way to send a quick holiday greeting, and while most e-cards are safe, some are malicious and may contain spyware or viruses that download onto your computer once you click on the link to view the greeting. Look for clues that the e-card is legitimate by checking the web address of the included link and make sure that the sender is someone you actually know.

12) Phony classifieds—Online classified sites may be a great place to look for holiday gifts and part-time jobs, but beware of phony offers that ask for too much personal information or ask you to wire funds via Western Union, since these are most likely scams.

How to Protect Yourself Against Scams During the Holidays, and Year-Round:

  • Stay suspicious—Be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true, and always look for telltale signs that an email or website may not be legitimate, such as blurry images, misspellings, poor grammar, or suspicious links.
  • Practice safe surfing—Find out if a website is potentially dangerous before you click on it by using a safe search plug-in such as McAfee SiteAdvisor® software. SiteAdvisor software displays easy-to-read red, yellow, and green checkmarks to rate websites when you search for them.
  • Practice safe shopping—Stick to reputable e-commerce sites and look for a trustmark that indicates that the site has been verified as safe by a trusted third-party, like the McAfee SECURE trustmark. Also, look for a lock symbol and “https” at the beginning of the web address (as opposed to just “http”) to verify the site uses encryption to protect the information transferred to the website.
  • Use strong passwords—Create strong passwords, avoid using the same password for your important accounts, and never share your passwords with anyone. Learn how to create foolproof passwords here.
  • Be careful when clicking—Don’t click on any links in messages from people you don’t know, and if you come across a shortened URL, use a URL expander to see where the link is directed to before you click.
  • Use a comprehensive computer security—You need complete protection that includes antivirus, antispyware, and antispam, and then make sure it stays up-to-date. McAfee® All Access helps you protect all of your devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.
  • Educate yourself—Keep current on the latest scams and tricks cybercriminals use so you can avoid potential attacks.

Contact Jolly Mon Vacations for more information on safe travel. Most of our services are absolutely free of charge!

Contact us today!

Phone:  218-779-3050

pete@jollymonvacations.com

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European Christmas Markets

So which one to choose?

Well, every German Christmas market has its own specialities (the best wooden ornaments come from the Erzgebirge mountains; the Bavarian Forest produces superb glass) but if you’re planning a special trip to Germany to do your Christmas shopping, it makes sense to visit a market in a place you want to see in its own right. Hopefully, the following shortlist should help you make up your mind.

And by the way, a word of warning about the Glühwein. Hot alcohol hits you quicker, especially in chilly weather, and this mulled wine is often a good deal stronger than the stuff we drink at home.

Aachen

23 November to 23 December (aachen.de)

The market

Of all Germany’s Christmas markets, Aachen’s Weihnachtsmarkt is closest to the UK – less than four hours from London by train, changing in Brussels. The Weihnachtsmarkt, in the shadow of the cathedral, has in a spectacular setting. Be sure to try some Printen (the local gingerbread) and potato fritters (the local fast food).

The city

Founded by the Romans, who came here to bathe in its hot sulphur springs, Aachen briefly became the capital of Western Europe under the Emperor Charlemagne during the Dark Ages. The mineral springs are still here (you can swim in them or drink them; bad-aachen.de) and Charlemagne’s ornate cathedral is still standing – a relic of a time when this border town was the centre of a great empire.

Cologne

26 November to 23 December (cologne.de)

The market

From its main site in the cathedral square, close to the bustling central station, Cologne’s Christmas market spills over into several diverse locations around the city. The markets in the Neumarkt and Alter Markt are both charming, but the most scenic spot is the Hafenmarkt, on the Rhine, beside Cologne’s Chocolate Museum. Frikadellen (pork burgers) and Spekulatius (cinnamon-flavoured biscuits) are among the culinary favourites. Kolsch, a light lager served in a dainty 200ml glass, is the favourite brew.

The city

Cologne Cathedral – Copyright River Cruise Guru

Cologne’s gigantic Gothic cathedral dominates the city skyline, but this busy Rhineland city is also a lively centre of the arts. The Ludwig Museum (00 49 221 221 26165; museum-ludwig.de) houses the biggest collection of Pop Art outside America and some stunning German Expressionists such as Max Beckmann and Ludwig Kirchner.

 

Dresden

28 November to 24 December (dresden.de)

The market

Founded in 1434, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. Contrary to popular misconception, it isn’t actually the oldest – that honour belongs to Bautzen, a historic town on the Polish border which beats it by half a century. Never mind. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is uniquely atmospheric, as the city’s Altmarkt is transformed into a gigantic grotto. Striezel is the Saxon word for Stollen, Germany’s distinctive Christmas cake, and Dresden’s version is commonly regarded as Germany’s finest. If you’re here on 8 December, don’t miss the annual Stollenfest (stollenfest.com), when an enormous Stollen is paraded through the city to the Striezelmarkt, where the Stollenmädchen (a sort of Christmas beauty queen) cuts the first slice.

The city

Renowned before the Second World War as one of Europe’s loveliest cities, the “Florence of the Elbe” was flattened by the Allies in 1945. However, since reunification it’s been painstakingly rebuilt and today the panorama Canaletto painted has been immaculately restored. As well as its beautiful baroque architecture, the Saxon capital has one of the world’s most wonderful art galleries, the Zwinger (00 49 351 49 14 2000; skd.museum), full of treasures by Renaissance masters such as Botticelli and Raphael.

Munich

30 November to 24 December (muenchen.de)

The market

Munich hosts more than a dozen Christmas markets. A lot of overseas visitors venture no further than the traditional Christkindlmarkt below the bell tower of the Neues Rathaus, but the smaller markets beyond Marienplatz are well worth a visit. The most picturesque is the Kripperlmarkt, which is devoted to crib sets and carved Nativity figures. For something completely different, visit Tollwood (tollwood.de), an alternative Christmas market with a focus on ethnic crafts, world music and international cuisine, which continues until 31 December.

The city

Forget the tourist clichés – there’s more to Munich than bierkellers, oompah bands and fat men in lederhosen. In fact, apart from a few weeks during the Oktoberfest, the Bavarian capital is one of Germany’s smartest cities, with lots of chic restaurants and private galleries, and a lively opera scene. Its greatest asset, however, is its close proximity to proper countryside. On a clear day you can see the Bavarian Alps from the city centre and the lovely lakes of Starnberger See and Ammersee are only half an hour away by U-bahn.

Nuremberg

30 November to 24 December (nuernberg.de)

The market

Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (literally, “Christ child market”) is Germany’s most celebrated Christmas market, attracting more than 2 million visitors annually. Air Berlin flies non-stop from Gatwick; the route ends in early January, but before then there is plenty of availability, The city’s culinary speciality is Lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread) but the biggest attraction is the Christkind (Christmas angel), who opens the market on the Friday before Advent, from the balcony of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the main square. A local girl in her late teens, the Christkind acts as an ambassador for the Christkindlesmarkt. Despite its popularity, the market retains an old-fashioned atmosphere and an emphasis on authentic produce, especially the Nürnberger Rostbratwürste – delicious little sausages served by the dozen or half a dozen, with heaps of tangy sauerkraut.

The city

Nuremberg’s medieval heritage made it deeply attractive to the Nazis, who adopted this romantic city as the cultural capital of the Third Reich. You can still visit Hitler’s Zeppelin Field, a vast crumbling ruin on the edge of town. Thankfully, Nuremberg’s totalitarian past now feels like ancient history. Today its main claim to fame is as the world’s top producer of children’s toys.

There are many cities along the Rhine and Danube River that have great Christmas Markets. One can take a river cruise and hit them all in style. We recommend Uniworld, AMA and Avalon for these cruises as well as some others. We here at River Cruise Guru assist you ‘free of charge’ with your river cruise plans. We are Certified River Cruise Specialists that really know this unique cruise niche.

Contact us today at:

218-779-3050

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

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Larson is a Certified Sandals Specialist

FARGO, ND AUGUST 2012 –

Pete Larson, President and owner of Jolly Mon Vacations of Grand Forks, ND participated in an intensive travel agent workshop administered by Unique Vacations, Inc. (UVI), the worldwide sales and marketing representative for Sandals, Beaches, and Grand Pineapple Beach resorts. Each workshop – It Pays to Know It All… –offers detailed information on Sandals Resorts International extensive portfolio – comprised of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts, and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts – as well as an overview of new developments, services and amenities. All who participate in the workshop are eligible to become Certified Sandals Specialists (CSS), an elite group of travel agents recognized by Unique Vacations, Inc. and the travel industry as experts in the worlds only Luxury Included® Resorts.

According to Pete of Jolly Mon Vacations, there is a serious job at hand, understanding the nuances of each brand within the Sandals Resorts portfolio is critical to his customers.  “My clients rely on me to help them make the best vacation choices so that every hard-earned dollar they spend is giving them true value,” said Larson, “I am thrilled to have been a part of this workshop. I have come away with a wealth of knowledge. My clients want to feel confident that the information they receive is based on expert knowledge and now, my Certified Sandals Specialist designation does just that.”

According to Gary Sadler, Senior Vice President of Sales at UVI, relying on a CSS travel agent is one of the best ways consumers can get the most out of their Caribbean vacation.  “Vacations are memories in the making,” said Sadler.  “You don’t get a second chance to celebrate the perfect honeymoon or family reunion. It has to be just right. CSS agents such as Pete are helping us to match customers to their ideal vacation experience. We congratulate Pete for participating in our workshop, and wish him the very best.”

You can find out more about Pete at:  www.JollyMonVacations.com  Your NO FEE source for all-inclusive vacations!

Contact Pete today at pete@jollymonvacations.com or phone 218-779-3050.

To explore Sandals or Beaches Resorts, please visit www.JollyMonVacations.co

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Sandals Resorts 2012 Star Diamond Awards

Sandals Resorts International was honored with 22 awards by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. The International Star Diamond Award is one of the most prestigious emblems of achievement and is awarded to exclusive recipients throughout the world. Nominations are routinely submitted by world travelers and industry professionals. All decisions of the Academy are based solely on whether the nominee demonstrates a commitment to excellence in luxury and service within its industry’s specific category and classification, including hospitality, attitude, quality, and cleanliness.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences,” said Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts International.  “We work hard to offer the finest luxury vacation, and we are honored that so many of our resorts have received Star Diamond Awards.”

The impressive awards and distinguished group of winners included:

  • Fowl Cay Resort: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
  • Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas:
    • 2012 Green Six Star Diamond Award – Red Lane ® Spa at Sandals Emerald Bay
    • 2012 Green Six Star Diamond Award – Sandals Emerald Bay
    • 2012 Six Star Diamond Award – Sandals Emerald Bay
    • Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa:
      • 2012 Six Star Diamond Award – Mediterranean Village at Sandals Grande Antigua
      • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Sandals Grande Antigua
      • Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa in St. Lucia:
        • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Sandals La Toc
        • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Sandals La Toc Restaurant
        • Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
        • Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
        • Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
        • Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios, Jamaica:
          • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Sandals Royal Plantation
          • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Red Lane® Spa at Sandals Royal Plantation
          • Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
          • Beaches Resorts: 2012 Six Star Green Diamond Award – Beaches Resorts “Keeping it Green”
          • Beaches Negril Resort & Spa: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
          • Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa:
            • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Beaches Turks & Caicos
            • 2012 Six Star Diamond Award – Italian Village at Beaches Turks & Caicos
            • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Mario’s Restaurant at Beaches Turks & Caicos
            • 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Le Petit Chateau Restaurant at Beaches Turks & Caicos
            • Rio Chico Private Estate: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award
            • Sandals Resorts at the Montego Bay Airport: 2012 Five Star Diamond Award – Sandals Resorts Arrival Lounge

Jolly Mon Vacations is your Certified Sandals & Beaches Resort Specialist!

Not only do we get you the best possible promo price but if a better one comes along AFTER you are booked…we will have your price adjusted down to get you the absolute BEST PRICE! We work closely with our Sandals Business Development Manager to get you every possible discount and free amenity possible. (oh, and we do it at NO COST TO YOU! Our services are FREE!)

You can’t go wrong, we guarantee!

Contact us today!

pete@jollymonvacations.com or 218.779.3050

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Las Vegas Shows

These days the music is more rock than Rat Pack, the comedy a bit edgier and the extravaganzas more extravagant than ever, but one thing hasn’t changed: Las Vegas still makes a pretty good claim to the title “Entertainment Capital of the World.” It seems like there’s always something new going on, which is especially good news for repeat visitors, who consistently represent more than 80 percent of the city’s tourists year after year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s annual Visitor Profile Studies. Here’s a sampling of what’s on the calendar for the remainder of 2012.

The Lion Roars: MGM Resorts International is bringing two more Cirque du Soleil spectaculars to Las Vegas with Zarkana taking the stage at Aria in October and Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL set to debut in the spring at Mandalay Bay. Four other Cirque productions, KÀ, Zumanity, “O” and The Beatles LOVE, are still going strong at the MGM Grand, New York-New York, Bellagio and The Mirage, respectively.

Another iconic troupe, Blue Man Group, is coming to MGM’s Monte Carlo in October with a show combining brand-new material with signature pieces that have made them audience favorites.

The Cosmopolitan Rocks Out: Thursdays Live at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Boulevard Pool hosts an eclectic mix of up-and-coming bands along with resident DJ M!keAttack. Upcoming shows include Jane’s Addiction, September 7 (a special Friday show) and The Hives, September 13. Indoors, The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan welcomes Morrissey on November 23.

More Music: If your clients prefer their rock a little less alternative, there are several alternatives, including Rod Stewart and Elton John, who are returning to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Stewart has nine shows on select dates between September 19 and October 7. John debuts his all-new show, The Million Dollar Piano, October 10 with 15 subsequent performances through mid-November.

Latin music superstar Luis Miguel will play at The Colosseum during Mexican Independence Day weekend, September 13-15. And for a touch of old-school-is-hip-again, crooner Tony Bennett holds sway at Caesars on September 1.

For country music fans, Shania Twain does 10 shows at Caesars, December 1-15, while Garth Brooks performs his new one-man show at the intimate Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, with 10 dates remaining between August 17 and November 17.

Comedy: For a good laugh, there is never any shortage of comedians in Las Vegas. For example, Tim Allen, Joan Rivers, David Spade and comedienne-in-residence Rita Rudner will be appearing on various dates at The Venetian through November. Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand presents a weekly lineup of familiar funny folk and talented newcomers, with the Everybody Loves Raymond alumnus himself dropping by to entertain on select Saturday nights and a full week November 26-December 2. Carrot Top presents his unique blend of prop comedy and observational humor six shows a week at MGM’s Luxor.

For family-friendly fun, there’s Terry Fator: Ventriloquism in Concert at The Mirage. Fator, an America’s Got Talent winner, brings to life a cast of characters highlighted by celebrity singing impressions.

A Bit of Broadway: The new downtown Smith Center presents its Broadway Las Vegas Series. Wicked runs August 29-October 7, followed by The Addams Family November 20-25. Next Year’s shows include Anything Goes, West Side Story, Shrek the Musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Billy Elliot and Catch Me If You Can.

Book your Vegas trip with us!

pete@jollymonvacations.com

www.JollyMonVacations.com

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Top 3 Classic Travel Scams: Protect Yourself!

As a travel agent and consultant, I get this question a lot:

“How do I know if this offer or ‘deal’ is legitimate or if it’s a travel scam?”

Here are a few classic things to watch for and how you can protect yourself.

1. The prize cruise or vacation:  “You’ve won a free cruise!”

You’re told you’ve won a free cruise or have qualified for a fabulous cut-rate price, but you’ll need to provide a credit card number to pay a deposit or processing fee. You may even be asked for your passport or Social Security number to prove that you’re the entitled winner.

If you give your credit card number, you may be charged “port fees” and other incidentals that exceed what you’d pay for an entire booking through a legitimate cruise line or travel agent. Provide your Social Security or passport number and you risk future identity theft. And your supposedly free vacation may require you to book a second guest at an inflated price.

2. The hidden sales pitch.

Some offers are designed just to get you to attend a sales pitch for a timeshare or an expensive and potentially problem-prone vacation club. You may in fact get a low-cost cruise, but past passengers complain of below-par accommodations – and high-pressure presentations that take not the promised 90 minutes but four hours or more. I’ve seen people leave these intimidating sales pitches in tears before.

3. The long-distance scam.

Offers are sometimes nothing more than a ruse to run up your phone bill. To claim your prize cruise, you’re told to call a 900 phone number or one with an area code of 876, 868, 809, 758, 784, 664, 473, 441, 284 or 246. Those codes seem all-American, but are actually for foreign countries, with the clock running at $5 a minute or more. In the end, there’s no cruise, only a high phone bill

How to Protect Yourself:

Last year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 1,300 complaints about cruises.

  • Beware of buzzwords. Travel promises tend to use language like “you’re eligible to      win” or “guaranteed.” One word that should never trick you: “Free.” It means just that — so don’t pay deposits or service fees on the promise you’ll get them back later.
  • Find out who really sent the offer. If an offer comes from an unrecognized source, assume the worst. But legitimate cruise lines may send past customers emails or mailings  about real low-cost offers. Before you respond, authenticate the address      with an online search. Watch out for look-alike Internet addresses that  are just a letter or two different from legitimate ones. Never click on attachments in unsolicited emails; they could unleash rogue programs known  as “malware” on your computer.
  • Get proper confirmation of your booking. If you book through a travel agent or other third party, make sure that you get two sets of confirmation numbers — one directly from the cruise line and one from the other agency. That will help in any disputes.
  • Pay with a credit card. That’s safer than a debit card or check and will allow for easier reimbursement or settlement of payment disputes if problems arise.

The bottom line is…its your money and its up to you to protect it. There is an easy way to do this when it comes to travel:

Use a reputable travel agent to do the work for you. They will find the best value for your money and most times it doesn’t cost you a thing extra. That’s right…we don’t even charge a fee to do the work on most vacation packages!

Travel agents offer so much more than you can get doing things yourself. From free planning, advice, upgrades, price reductions AFTER your purchase, proper insurance protection, trustworthy tours, transportation, assistance when trouble arises and so much more. We know the safety about your destinations, cruises and shore tours.

Travel agents are trained in what they do and often times they’ve already been where you are going and can offer loads of inside information you can’t get elsewhere. They can shop vendors that are not even available to the public and most times beat pricing you can find on the internet. Valuable resort and cruise line advice that will be critical to your stay will be given so there are no ‘surprises.’

Great travel agents are trained, certified and agency accredited. Look for one that SPECIALIZES in what you are looking for. (we specialize in all-inclusive resorts and river cruises in Europe, Asia and Russia)

Don’t fall for a scam, head to a trusted agent for real help and expertise!

Call or click to find out more about what we can do for you:

email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

218-779-3050

Find out more about Jolly Mon Vacations and River Cruise Guru

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Scenic Cruises Launches True All-Inclusive River Cruises

Pete Larson, River Cruise Guru

Owner and Travel Consultant for River Cruise Guru & Jolly Mon Vacations

Scenic Cruises has announced what it calls the “first truly all-inclusive luxury river cruising experience.” New on 2013 cruises will be unlimited complimentary beverages (top-shelf brands are additional), private butler service for every guest, themed dinners with entertainment (including Hungarian and Bavarian itineraries), a personal GPS onboard guided tour system devices providing commentary, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Also new are three dining venues — River Café with all-day offerings; Table La Rive, for degustation menus; and High Tea on the Terrace. (River Café, Table La Rive and the GPS tour are not available on Scenic Emerald which will be relocated to the south of France)

New shore experiences include Scenic Enrich, exclusive experiences such as a private dinner and concert at Rastatt Palace; Scenic FreeChoice, 18 tours including the Hockenheim Formula 1 Track in Heidelberg; and Scenic Tailor-made, a bespoke GPS-guided tour system with full commentary, allowing guests to choose from independent walks or cycling tours exploring areas like food and wine or history.

“We are redefining the term ‘all-inclusive luxury’ with the addition of unlimited complimentary beverages available at any time throughout the ship, free Wi-Fi, and butler service for all,” said Managing Director Glen Moroney. “Our relaxing new River Café offers food items all day, including cakes and espresso coffee. And most important — there is basically nothing more to pay except for personal expenses.”

River Cruise Guru can attest to this, as we were invited to sail onboard the maiden voyage of Scenic Crystal and have personally experienced the 2013 changes ourselves on a special voyage. It was nothing short of incredible.

Also in 2013, Scenic “Space-Ships” will get “Sun-Lounges,” which allow guests to convert their private balconies into an indoor lounge. This is basically a step-out balcony that can be totally enclosed in glass for bad weather or wind. Unlike most river cruise ships with balconies, Scenic does not take away ANY space from the stateroom when adding balconies. Sun lounges will be retro-fitted to the entire fleet (except Scenic Emerald). Moroney also announced a number of technical ship upgrades including a “silent drive” system that significantly reduces noise and vibration, and a sophisticated and powerful air-conditioning system.

When it comes to river cruising, Scenic has really stepped up the game. A luxury product that no other line matches in terms of all-inclusive amenities.

To begin your river cruise planning, call us today! Expert river cruise knowledge and assistance at no extra cost to you!

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations located in Grand Forks, ND serving clients around the globe. We are RIVER CRUISE SPECIALISTS and we DO NOT CHARGE ANY FEES. You get expert advice, planning assistance and booking for the same or less than you would do things yourself. WE KNOW RIVER CRUISES!

Find out more at:  www.JollyMonVacations.com and www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

For questions and assistance contact Pete:

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Phone or text:  218-779-3050

LIKE us on facebook:  www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

 

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Scenic Crystal River Cruise Review: Part 5; The Tours

By Pete Larson, Owner of River Cruise Guru and Jolly Mon Vacations

We are River Cruise Specialists! Your free vacation planning source!

One of the best things about river cruising, is that many things are included in your overall price. Different cruise lines offer different amenities and inclusions so when you compare them…look into it closely. Something as simple as GRATUITIES or TRANSFERS not included can end up costing hundreds of dollars more in your final price. All companies are NOT the same which makes it difficult to know where to turn. My advice is to look for a RIVER CRUISE SPECIALIST because they know the cruise lines and what they each provide. Why reinvent the wheel when you can get FREE PROFESSIONAL HELP from a proven TRUSTED source?

Shore tours or excursions are included on almost all mainstream river cruise lines. AMA Waterways, Uniworld, Avalon, Viking, Scenic and many more include tours. Some of these lines offer your CHOICE of tours in some locations. This means you get to select from some different offerings that interest you most. Scenic Tours has offered this for years but now Avalon has a choice as well. Many of these cruise lines also offer OPTIONAL tours which you will have to pay EXTRA for but Scenic Cruises does not. In my opinion, they have one of the most all-inclusive river cruises out there. Next year, they WILL have the most all-inclusive product as they introduce many more inclusions such as butler service on all decks, private airport transfers and open bar to name a few.

On this Rhine River trip, we took advantage of each tour offered. Our first tour was a walking tour in the city of Cologne, Germany. When you leave the ship for a tour you are free to pick a group number. This way, you can be sure to be with your friends or family. Tour guides meet you at the gangway and then you go from there for walking tours. You will bring your QuietVox headset so you can hear the guide no matter where you are. This is nice if you are distracted by something or linger to take photos because you won’t miss anything.

The walking tours move around at a slow pace and on this one it was pouring rain so we made frequent stops under shelter. It’s a good idea to bring an umbrella so you don’t get your camera wet when you want a picture. Scenic Tours provides a large umbrella in your room for your use which is very handy. Most of our city tours lasted around an hour and took us to the main attractions. In Cologne, the main site is the famous Cathedral. This gothic cathedral is a masterpiece! The detail when you get up close is incredible. Inside, the acoustics and stained glass windows are amazing. There is no charge to go inside and it’s well worth a visit. After our walking tour we had a little free time to shop or do whatever you like.

Cologne Cathedral – Copyright River Cruise Guru

Scenic Tours is one of the few companies that own their own coaches to move guests around in. This is really nice because the coaches are always on time, in great condition and they will do everything the company needs them to do.

We went up the Moselle River to Cochem for our next stop. We took a walking tour of the town and then took coaches up the mountain to Reichsburg Castle. What a beautiful vista from the top of this mountain! On this day, the castle’s interior was closed to visitors. No

Cochem, Germany – Copyright River Cruise Guru

problem for us, because the guides still have access to the castle and they took us inside. (leaving the sad non-cruisers outside) The castle is amazing and filled with beautiful treasures of the past.

Next stop was Bernkastel, where the mere mention of the name makes wine connoisseur’s hearts beat faster! This town is the center of the vineyards of the Moselle Valley and they line the slate river banks for many miles. In Bernkastel, you could choose either a tour of the quaint city, a trip to Trier (the oldest city in Germany) or ride an hour and a half to Luxembourg. This is called a SCENIC FREE CHOICE and you must make your choice the day before so they can organize transportation. We chose Trier because the robe that Jesus is said to have worn during crucifixion was on display and we wanted to see it. This robe has only been displayed 17 times in over

Trier Cathedral – Copyright River Cruise Guru

2,000 years so this was an event NOT to be missed. Once we arrived in Trier for our walking tour, we cut away from the group and ventured out on our own. When we arrived at the cathedral to see the display there was a German mass going on. We watched the end of the mass and then proceeded through the sea of people to see the robe. I think everyone in that room was in total awe at what we were seeing and I can’t really explain how I felt standing there looking at it. It was one of those ‘awe’ moments you will never forget though.

Afterward, we walked around The Market Place, tried some apple strudel and visited the Porta Nigra which is a fortified gateway built by the Romans in the second century AD. It was a great visit to Trier despite the onslaught of rain.

Rüdesheimer Schloss Hotel – Copyright River Cruise Guru

Rüdesheim was the last stop for us and where this new beautiful ship would be christened in a grand ceremony later in the day. We disembarked the ship and checked into the Rüdesheimer Schloss Hotel right off the world-famous Drosselgasse. This is a lively area where you can shop, eat or hit the wine bars. We had a great German dinner at the Hotel Lindenwirt’s restaurant and wine bar that was delicious. Scenic Tours also provided transportation via train to the Siegfried’s Musikkabinett (Museum of mechanical music instruments) with admission as well as tickets to the cable car although we opted to tour on our own.

We headed to the cable car and rode to the Niederwalddenkmal at the top of the mountain. The view of the Rhine, the vineyards and the city below was nothing short of incredible. The Niederwalddenkmal is a statue commemorating the foundation of the German Empire. The statue was under construction during our visit and was very hard to see. The highlight was surely the view and the deer we saw run up the staircase to the statue!

Overall, the included tours on this Scenic Cruise were excellent. Guides and drivers did a great job and the attractions were top-notch. Free time was included at each stop and sometimes the stops seem a little short. Our cruise was on an accelerated pace because this itinerary was for travel agents, Scenic staff and press however.

Part 6 will follow this soon.

 

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Scenic Crystal River Cruise Review: Part 4; The Ship

Scenic Crystal River Cruise Review:

Part 4:  The ship

By Pete Larson, Owner of River Cruise Guru and Jolly Mon Vacations

We are River Cruise Specialists! Your free vacation planning source!

Scenic Crystal 2012. Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations

Scenic Cruises launched its sixth river cruise ship, the 169-passenger Scenic Crystal in April and we were on this maiden voyage. Scenic Crystal is 443 feet long and has cabins and suites ranging from 164 to 315 square feet, most of which have real outdoor balconies that you can enclose at the touch of a button.

We boarded this ship in Amsterdam for a trip down the Rhine to Rüdesheim where the ship would be christened before continuing down to Basel, Switzerland.

The Airport Transfers:

Scenic Cruises will pick you up at the airport when you arrive on departure day whether or not you purchase flights from Scenic. Scenic staff will be waiting  near the baggage carousel holding a sign. You may have to go to a bus or holding area for a little bit while others are arriving. In 2013, the included transfers will become PRIVATE transfers, so once you arrive at the airport, you will be whisked directly to the ship without delay! Show me another cruise line that offers that included in the price! Since we arrived two nights early, we simply took a taxi to the port.

Boarding Ship:

Upon arrival at the Scenic Crystal, staff came off the ship and grabbed our suitcases for us and took them onboard the ship. We climbed the gangway and entered the lobby of this amazing new river ship and met with the staff. They quickly introduced us to Igor, the Hotel Manager and he offered my wife a single rose. We were given our room keys and they ushered us to our stateroom. This was the quickest and hassle-free boarding experience I’ve ever encountered in all our travels!

The Butler:

Once in our stateroom, we were met by our butler who explained the room and services. In 2013, all three passenger decks will receive butler services included in the price! She made sure our devices were hooked to the internet and made us reservations for Portobello’s Restaurant at my request.

The Stateroom:

Deluxe Balcony of Scenic Crystal. Photo © River Cruise Guru

We had stateroom B205, which is a Deluxe Balcony, mid-ship on the middle (Rhine) deck. This is a nice sized room with closets, safe, Apple TV, mini bar, hair dryer, bottled water, two-twin beds configured into a queen sized bed with suitcase storage beneath. A sliding glass door opened onto a full outdoor balcony with glass/wood rail. There were two chairs and a small table. Scenic calls this area, the “Scenic Sun Lounge” because at the push of a button, a window slides up (just like a car window) and encloses the deck from noise, wind, rain and cold. You can enjoy your balcony at anytime! This is a great new feature and we used it a lot. You will need an electrical adapter/converter to power your electronics as they use European electrical plugs.

The bathroom. Photo © River Cruise Guru

The bathroom was the best I’ve had on any ship. It was larger than most ocean-going ships and it featured modern sink with LED down-lighting and a glass-walled shower that had three heads and an LED colored lighting display in the upper showerhead! It gave you a SPA-like experience right in your own stateroom. Unbelievable.

Noise and vibration:

Now you sometimes read reviews about ship vibration on certain cruises. On river cruises, the ships are smaller and follow a very winding river. These ships will sometimes make more noise during turns as they use side thrusters. The engine noise will be heard no matter where your cabin is located but it never seems to bother me. I know I’m on a moving vehicle  and when going in and out of locks there will be some bumping and engine noise. Is this something that ever kept me awake? No. I rather enjoyed the hum of the engines.

Daily Program:

The Daily Programme. Photo © River Cruise Guru

Scenic Tours leaves a DAILY PROGRAMME on your bed each day so you will know the schedule. The ship was to depart Amsterdam at 17:00 hours. (yes, they use the 24 hour/military time) Shortly before sailing, they gathered us for a Welcome Reception and safety briefing. Scenic Tours CEO/Managing Director came onboard and gave us a nice welcome speech and the ships Captain then took over the safety briefing. An actual ‘safety drill’ was held the second day and we all put on life-vests on the Sun Deck. There are no lifeboats on a river ship so you simply go to the upper deck when the alarm is sounded and they hand you a life-vest.

First Thoughts:

My first thoughts were WOW! The ship is brand new and pristine. I’ve been on a lot of ships before, but none that smelled of new paint and carpet. I expected the crew to be a bunch of inexperienced employees thrown together at the last minute not knowing how to do things. Boy, was I wrong! They were all spectacular! Like a well-oiled machine. Polite, knowledgeable and accommodating.

Crystal Lounge:

The Crystal Lounge. Photo © River Cruise Guru

This is a great space and well used. From reading a book, having coffee or a cocktail to having some lunch or dancing the night away this room delivers. Beautiful furnishings that are comfortable to eat lunch in or just sit and watch the scenery go by through the large windows.  There are coffee and tea stations here, available around the clock and the new lunch venue, The River Café. A light lunch fare is served there and it also houses appetizers and desserts as well. Forward of this area is the Portobello’s Restaurant (only set up in the evening, otherwise its an extension of the lounge) which is a special place to have a 7 course dinner. The dinner is special and the service is incredible. There is no extra fee for any of these dining venues. In 2013, drinks will be included as part of the cruise fare. That’s right, all-inclusive!

Portobello’s Restaurant:

This is considered to be a ‘special’ dining experience and will require a reservation due to limited seating area. There is no extra charge to dine here which is incredible. The staff is ‘extra-attentive’ and greets you with a flute of champagne upon arrival. There are many sized tables and we were seated at a table for six. We shared dinner with four other passengers and found them to be very fun and interesting. Dinner served was seven courses of delight. Several choices of regional wines were offered and each course was presented by the chef with a story. The meal was great, the service spectacular and the experience  was memorable.

Observation Deck:

Forward Observation Deck. Photo © River Cruise Guru

Forward of Portobello’s is a small but covered seating area right near the bow. It offers a fantastic forward view of the area you are traveling. It offers some sun or rain protection and even has some radiant heaters overhead which helped on a blustery day. A great spot to view the transit through one of the many river locks.

The Sundeck:

The Sundeck of Scenic Crystal. Photo © River Cruise Guru

A great big area to socialize, watch scenery and catch some rays. On our cruise, it didn’t see the use it would during the summer months but we still found it a great place to take photos and watch as we passed under low bridges. During nice weather it also serves as another alternate dining venue. The wheelhouse and the upper railings on the very top deck are sometimes put down. The wheelhouse is able to be lowered and the deck rails and canopies fold down. This makes it possible to fit under lower bridges on the river. We were allowed to sit forward of the wheelhouse during the passing of low bridges, but were ordered to stay seated. It is quite amazing how they scoot right under these bridges with very little clearance. There were only two areas to smoke onboard; one was the furthest point aft on the Sundeck, the other was right near the middle stairs/wheelhouse on the Sun Deck. The Captain said, “if you don’t see an ashtray, you cannot smoke there.” No smoking was allowed on the balconies either.

The Crystal Dining Room:

The Crystal Dining Room. Photo © River Cruise Guru

A very nice restaurant for all three daily meals right at water level. Many different sized tables to choose from and It operates with an open-seating policy. A great place to meet old friends or to discover new ones. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet-style. Mornings saw an omelet station and afternoons usually had some sort of carved meats available. Regional wines, beer and soft drinks are complimentary at lunch and dinner. In 2013, these beverages will be complimentary around the clock! We enjoyed the local Riesling wines very much. There was usually a choice between a couple of different wines with each meal. The food was served up in courses; appetizer, soup/salad, main entrée and dessert. I found each dish I had ordered to be very good. Sometimes they had a theme, like on German day the staff was dressed in lederhosen, German music was played, they served authentic German dishes and trays of bier!

The Staff/Service:

I found the staff to be very accommodating at all times. Whenever I had a question, they were there with an answer. The Cruise Director, Sylvie, was very good as running things. She gave the port talks each day in the Lounge and also took care of us when it came to tours and on debarkation day. Service staff were excellent both in the lounge and dining rooms. Stateroom staff were also very good. All gratuities are included with Scenic Tours/Cruises which is very nice and convenient.

Entertainment:

If you are the type that needs constant entertainment, you may be a bit bored on a river cruise. Entertainment usually consists of a piano player/singer/entertainer, dancing , local musicians brought onboard, lectures or a glass blowing demonstration. I found it to be a nice distraction in the evening when you could not see the scenery.

Internet:

The internet is a fee for service program now, (about $30 Euros/week) but in 2013 it will also be complimentary…and it should be. I found the internet to be very frustrating. It’s satellite -based so connections are horrible through the river valleys and locks. It seemed you could never get connected and once you did it didn’t last. I told the ship staff that if I had to pay for internet…I wouldn’t have. It just wasn’t worth the aggravation in my opinion.

Onboard Dress:

Casual elegance for the most part. Several of us men wore sport jackets during the more dressy nights, like the GALA dinner and in Portobello’s Restaurant. Most men wore collared shirts or polo’s and women wore dresses or pant suits.

Overall the dress code was not something to worry much about. As long as you look presentable, everything is fine. Yes, people were wearing jeans in the dining room. Women may need a shawl or sweater for the dining rooms or lounge as the air conditioning can be quite chilly inside.

Weather:

We had cold, rainy weather. Dressing in layers works very well on a river cruise. As the day heats up you can strip layers or the opposite if the temperatures drop. Rain was a big factor, so a raincoat was perfect as it also offered protection from water and wind. Scenic provides each stateroom with a large umbrella to use on excursions as well. These are great  for taking pictures when its raining so your camera doesn’t get wet.

Next Up:

The next sections (part 5) of this review will cover our Shore Excursions and tours followed by the naming ceremony and some other thoughts and tips. Stay tuned!

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Keukenhof Gardens 2012

Scenic Crystal River Cruise Review:  Part 3: our visit to Keukenhof Gardens, Holland.

By Pete Larson, Owner of Jolly Mon Vacations and River Cruise Guru.

Keukenhof Gardens is the most photographed place in the world!

We took an excursion from Amsterdam prior to boarding the ship. After visiting this park in April, I can see why this place is photographed! The place is nothing short of AMAZING!

What is Keukenhof?  A historic park filled with blooming tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other spring bulbs. At Keukenhof you can gain inspiration and relax in the beautiful surroundings. Keukenhof has surprises in store for visitors of all ages.

Be sure to bring your camera along on this unique experience. They provide organised guided tours in Dutch, English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.

Tulips of Holland Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations

Here are some other interesting facts:

  • Has won prizes as Europe’s most valued attraction
  • Keukenhof is unique and famous throughout the world
  • It is one of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands and has clocked up more than 44 million visitors in the last 60 years
  • It is the largest bulb flower park in the world
  • It covers an area of 32 hectares 4.5 million tulips in 100 varieties
  • It is the most photographed place in the world
  • There are 15 kilometers of footpaths
  • It is the largest sculpture park in the Netherlands
  • The bulbs are supplied by 91 Royal Warrant Holders
  • 7 million flower bulbs planted by hand
  • More than 2,500 trees in 87 varieties
  • Walk of Fame with tulips named after famous people

Jolly Mon Vacations pre-booked us a trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof Gardens. It was called, “Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields Tour from Amsterdam.”  We pre-paid for the excursion (about $49 US per person) and chose our date and the amount of time we wanted to spend there. The buses leave right off The Damrak close to Centraal Station, which was very close to our hotel “The Crowne Plaza Amsterdam Centraal.” The tour company will put you on buses according to which language you’d like the tour to be given in. If you are interested in booking a trip to Keukenhof or any other excursions and tours, Jolly Mon Vacations/River Cruise Guru can help you FREE of charge! Expert advice and no fees!

This tour took us out of the city and into the countryside of Holland. Spring in Holland is magical. Everything greening up from winter and the flowers abound. We were able to see some of the famous Holland windmills as well as fields just loaded with colorful flowers.

Flower Fields of Holland. Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations

Entrance tickets are needed to enter the park. Since we came on a tour bus, the price of the excursion included the tickets. If you purchase them yourself, they are 14.50 Euro each, and it’s 6 Euro to park a car. The park is only open from 21 March to 21 May…with the busiest time being mid to end of April. (when we arrived) It was busy with people, but we found it to be alright even though many pictures show other people in them.

Here is a map of what the park looks like:

We found the park to be wonderful, peaceful, beautiful and fun. We took lots of pictures and enjoyed the entire tour immensely. It’s a great place to spend a half or full day. (and yes, you can buy flower bulbs!)

Now I’ll let you wander the park through our pictures….enjoy!

Tulips of Holland. Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations
Field of color.
Windmill. Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations
Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations
Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations
Photo © Jolly Mon Vacations