Posted on Leave a comment

Top 5 River Cruise Questions

Viking Prestige

I’ve been assisting travelers with river cruises for nearly 10 years now. Here are the most popular questions I get asked:

First up – “How do I get the best deal on a river cruise?”

Early booking usually offers the best discounts and promotions. By early, I mean at least 9 months to nearly 1.5 years out. Some cruise lines run what I call a ‘deceptive marketing strategy’, so beware. If you see, “2 for 1” pricing and such…just know that’s really not true. You really have to compare the ending price for everything you need with each cruise offer. Mark my words, if they offer “FREE AIR” or “FREE” anything…it’s not really free, it’s just worked into the pricing. This is where our shopping skills come into play and many times we can offer things not available to the public. Did you figure that into your value?

2. Why should I go through you instead of booking online myself?

Chances are, you have researched a little about river cruising already. Does that mean you are an expert? No, just better informed. We are CERTIFIED by the cruise lines themselves in their brands. We know the cruise lines, the ships, the differences, the itineraries, the rivers, the inclusions, the ports, the tours and much more. We’ve been on the different rivers and cruise lines ourselves. We are not ‘middlemen.’ We do not charge you for our services, the cruise lines pay us. You win! You get our experience, training, and assistance at no extra cost. In fact, we will very likely SAVE YOU MONEY! (and a lot of headaches) A river cruise is a big investment, don’t throw your money up for chance and hope things work out in your favor.

3. What is the best time of year to river cruise?

That depends on your interests and a few other things. Do you like cooler weather or do you like it hot? Popular options for warm weather will surely be summer months in both Europe and the USA. Do you like better value? Do you like cooler weather? Maybe a Spring or Autumn cruise is best for you. Pricing is down in the ‘shoulder’ seasons and the weather is a bit cooler as well. Crowds start to thin out as well. And, of course you can visit the world-famous Christmas Markets in the winter. (think Germany/Austria and the like) So, depending on your likes…seasonal changes can make a big difference on what you see and how warm the weather will be.

4. Do I need a passport or visa to river cruise?

It depends on where you were born and what country you are visiting. For most US citizens, you will simply need a valid passport in countries like Germany, France, Hungary, Austria, The Netherlands. If you cruise in Vietnam, China or Russia you will likely need visas as well. No worries, we assist you with these things to assure things go smoothly and you have the proper documentation to travel. Remember, you can river cruise in the USA without a passport or visa if you are a citizen of the USA!

5. What are the most popular places to river cruise?

The Danube River through Germany, Austria and Hungary is about the most popular. Usually between Nuremberg, Germany and Budapest, Hungary for equal parts beautiful vineyards, ancient cities and multiple countries. You can also do the Eastern Europe run from Budapest to Bucharest on the same river.

The Rhine River is also very popular, between Amsterdam and down into Basel, Switzerland. These cruises will start in either of those cities and cruise through The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. Many castles in the Rhine Gorge to see and the river cruises into the Black Forest.

France has a few popular options, with Paris/Normandy itineraries on The Seine River, as well as both South of France rivers and even in the Western Bordeaux region. Military buffs will love the northern route to Normandy to see the beaches and cemeteries while wine aficionados will love the other regions. Foodies, head to the South of France for the best in cuisine.

U.S.A has some great options on The Mississippi River with many options on rivers to the East. In the Western USA, you can cruise the beautiful Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border through the fantastic Columbia River Gorge. You can cruise on new-build, modern ships or cruise replicas of the days gone by on a paddlewheeler or steamboat! I’ve done them both and they are very unique. Some theme cruises are wine-focused, where they visit the many vineyards in the area or history-focused showcasing the days gone by.

River Cruise Guru
Contact me today! pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

Certified River Cruise Specialist

RiverCruiseGuru.com

Contact: pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Caribbean Group Cruise 2019 a Success!

Thanks to all those that went on our fabulous group cruise this winter. It was great to have so many new cruises along! You can now see why we all get addicted to traveling and having others along makes for even more fun.

We started out in Galveston, Texas. Most of the group shared a rented beach house for two nights prior to the cruise.

We boarded Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas and cruised for 7 nights with port stops at Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. The ship was enormous, the staff was stellar and the food was great. We had two large tables in the dining room for our group and had an outstanding waitstaff to take care of us.

Liberty of the Seas in port next to Brilliance of the Seas

The beaches of Cozumel, Mexico

I’m in the beginning stages of putting together a group cruise for winter 2020 right now. Please contact me if you are interested in joining us next year. Stay tuned for the announcement!

Posted on Leave a comment

Allegiant Honors Military Discount

Allegiant Military & Veteran Discount

Allegiant Air proudly supports our U.S. active duty military, military veterans, members of the National Guard, military reserve and their dependents by offering select free services.

Qualifying military personnel and their spouses or dependents, with valid identification, are eligible for the following discounts on Allegiant:

Free services offered for U.S. active duty or reserve duty and National Guard:

  • Up to three (3) pieces of checked baggage free. Each bag must weigh under 100 lbs.
  • No charge for oversized checked baggage.
  • One (1) carry-on bag within Allegiant size limits, free.
  • Free boarding pass printing at the airport.
  • Free seat assignments, pending availability.
  • Up to one (1) pet in cabin free.
  • Active military may board with priority boarding at no charge.
  • Active military will not be charged a change or cancelation fee due to a change in orders.
    (To change or cancel an existing reservation active military personnel must contact Customer Care.)

U.S. active duty or reserve duty and National Guard requirements:

  • Must serve in any United States branch of military service and have qualifying identification.
  • Must be active personnel; this includes ‘leaves’ while on active duty such as weekend passes, transitioning from one base to another, or temporary duty.
  • Must show valid active military identification (Uniformed Services ID Card).

Free services offered for U.S. military veterans and spouses or dependents of U.S. active duty or reserve military, and National Guard:

  • Up to three (3) pieces of checked baggage free. Each bag must weigh under 40 lbs.
  • No charge for oversized checked baggage.
  • One (1) carry-on bag within Allegiant size limits free.
  • Free boarding pass printing at the airport.
  • Free seat assignments, pending availability.
  • Up to one (1) pet in cabin free.

U.S. military veterans and spouses or dependents of U.S. active duty or reserve military, and National Guard requirements:

  • Must show valid credentials.
  • Veterans must show one (1) form of valid military identification, including:
    • A State Driver’s License which displays a logo or code that denotes military service
    • A Veteran ID Card
    • DD Form 214
  • Dependents must show a Military Dependent ID Card
  • Please note: Dependents do not have to travel with the active military personnel.

* All optional items and services will be added to your itinerary at the airport

Jolly Mon Vacations can book your Allegiant Air/Hotel packages. (however, we do not book air-only. Must include hotel)

Contact Me at: pete@jollymonvacations.com for further information.

Jolly Mon Vacations is a proud Veteran Owned business

Posted on Leave a comment

Jolly Mon Vacations holds IATAN accreditation

IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agent Network) promotes professionalism and administers meaningful and impartial business standards to travel industry professionals. IATAN accreditation is voluntary, and means that a travel business consciously works to assure you, its customer, of its legitimacy and commitment to the travel profession.

IATAN accreditation tells you that Jolly Mon Vacations is a serious,  reputable,  business professional and seller of travel. Jolly Mon Vacations is an IATAN Travel Sales Intermediary (TSI) agency. Our IATAN number can be found in the IATAN database by cruise lines, airlines and hotels worldwide.

IATAN accredited agencies must demonstrate that:

  • it has staff devoted to the affairs of the business, who have managerial skills and discretion
  • the business is a valid legal entity and has appropriate business bank accounts
  • it can produce letters of reference from national or international travel industry suppliers or from national travel associations
  • its Website and advertisements show how customers can contact the business
  • it complies with relevant Federal, state, county and local laws
  • it has no pending or unresolved complaints at state or local consumer affairs office
  • as part of the accreditation process, agencies must demonstrate revenue consistent with being a significant travel business.

You can get more details on IATAN at www.iatan.org

Posted on Leave a comment

New Website is LIVE!

Getting ready to kick-off 2019 by giving our website a complete makeover. We’ve redone it top to bottom to make it simple yet effective. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Referrals are the best compliment you can pay me!

Happy New Year and thanks for sharing!

Pete Larson, CTC

Certified Travel Counselor