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NEWS: Pete Larson Earns Adventurist Certification from UnCruise Adventures

For Immediate Release

Peter Larson at River Cruise Guru Earns Adventurist Certification From

UnCruise Adventures

Grand Forks, ND, May 2017 – Pete Larson, owner of River Cruise Guru and Jolly Mon Vacations completed a specialized training program and is now certified as an Adventurist with UnCruise Adventures. The line offers adventure cruises aboard boutique yachts and small ships in Southeast Alaska, Hawaiian Islands, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Columbia & Snake Rivers, coastal Washington, British Columbia, Costa Rica, Panamá, and Galápagos Islands.

To join the Adventurist Club, travel agents participate in a series of online tutorials and pass an online exam. The Adventurist program details the nuances of UnCruise Adventures’ inclusive small ship adventure and river cruises along with destination information.

“We commend travel agents who take the time to complete the certification program,” said Tim Jacox, president and COO at UnCruise Adventures. “By becoming a specialist, agents have the expertise to paint a clear picture of our small-group adventures for their clients.”

UnCruise Adventures offers an alternative to traditional cruising by taking travelers into areas that are not accessible to larger ships and on activities that focus on the wilderness, wildlife and culture in each destination. Seven adventure vessels offer opportunities for outdoor activities including kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, skiff explorations, stand-up paddle-boarding and whale watching. One replica coastal steamer offers river cruising with an eye on history and included shoreside tours to points of historical interest.

 Pete Larson is a Certified Travel Counselor & River Cruise Specialist

www.JollyMonVacations.com                   www.RiverCruiseGuru.com 

Email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com or pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Phone:  218.779.3050

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UnCruise Adventures in Alaska

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About UnCruise Adventures

UnCruise Adventures’ yachts and small ships carry 22-88 guests on voyages in Alaska, Hawaiian Islands, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Columbia & Snake Rivers, coastal Washington, British Columbia, Costa Rica, Panamá and the Galápagos Islands.  Un-Cruise Adventures, under the parent company of InnerSea Discoveries Alaska Inc., is a member of Trusted Adventures, dedicated to the highest standards of small-group travel and to giving back to the places visited.

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New Margaritaville All-Inclusive Resorts

Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Margaritaville have announced a partnership to develop a collection of all-inclusive Margaritaville resorts.

The new Margaritaville, an All-Inclusive Experience, by Karisma will be Margaritaville’s entry into the all-inclusive resort market.

The collection will comprise new-build beachfront resorts in tropical destinations, including the Caribbean and Mexico, that will combine Karisma’s award-winning all-inclusive service and experiences with some of the signature elements of the global brand inspired by iconic singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. (my Hero!)

While it’s unclear where the first resort is slated to break ground, it will happen later this year with a opening planned for 2018.

“Our partnership with Margaritaville allows us to introduce a collection of new casual luxury resorts set in stunning tropical destinations,” said the Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Karisma’s exclusive representative, Premier Worldwide Marketing, Mandy Chomat in a statement. “Karisma’s expertise in delivering elevated all-inclusive concepts around the world makes this partnership a perfect fit.”

In her own statement, Margaritaville’s chief marketing officer Tamara Baldanza-Dekker called the partnership “a match made in paradise.”

Karisma currently owns and operates more than two dozen properties throughout Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe and aims to have 30 up and running around the world by 2020.

Source:  Travel Pulse

Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

Certified Travel Counselor & River Cruise Specialist

Jolly Mon Vacations  …destination anywhere.

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Phone or text:  218-779-3050

“LIKE” us on Facebook!

 

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American Airlines Basic Economy Fares

American announced it will begin selling Basic Economy fares beginning Feb. 10 in select markets, with expansion to additional markets later this year.(same as United Airlines did last year)aa

Here’s what you will get with American’s new Basic Economy fare:
* The same in-flight experience that all Main Cabin customers receive, including free entertainment options, soft drinks, and snacks, and the same seats.

* Frequent flyer miles. With a catch. Full AAdvantage miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars may be earned when purchasing these fares, but only one-half Elite Qualifying Mile will be earned per mile flown, and one-half Elite Qualifying Segment per segment flown.

Here’s what you won’t get:
* Seat assignments are made automatically and only when customers check in. Paid seat assignments can be purchased 48 hours before the flight.

* Upgrades are not permitted no matter what level your frequent flyer status us.

* Early boarding? Nope. Basic Economy customers will comprise the last boarding group and will be seated in the Main Cabin. Elite customers and eligible AAdvantage credit card members will continue to receive Priority or preferred boarding even when purchasing this fare.

* Tickets are non-refundable, non-changeable. Use it or lose it. No same-day flight change or same-day standby.

* Of course, the carry-on. One personal carry-on item that fits under the seat (such as a purse or small backpack) is allowed. No overhead bin luggage may be brought on board. Everything else must be checked, for a fee.

Elite customers and eligible AAdvantage credit card members will be allowed to bring one personal item, one rollerboard, and they maintain their current free checked bag allowance.

Contact us today for free assistance with your vacation plans.

pete@jollymonvacations.com

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Travel Leaders Network

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Jolly Mon Vacations and River Cruise Guru are proud to be affiliated with the brand new Travel Leaders Network!

Travel Leaders Network — one powerful force to help us compete even more effectively for the hearts and minds of the traveling public.

As the largest seller of luxury travel, cruises, river cruises and tours in the travel agency industry, we will have unparalleled and cohesive strength within the greater travel industry.

Vacation.com, the largest travel agency consortium; Travel Leaders Associates (also known as Travel Leaders Franchise Group), a leading agency franchise group; and Results! Travel, a smaller franchise group, will be merged to form a mega-travel agency group with nearly 7,000 locations, 35,000 individual agencies and $17 billion in annual sales, including $6.5 billion in cruise and tour sales alone.

The merger will be effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Cheers to a great 2017…and beyond!

Pete Larson, CTC, LS, DS

Certified Travel Consultant, Lifestyle Specialist, Destination Specialist

218-779-3050

pete@jollymonvacations.com

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Why I love CIE Tours

For tours of Ireland and the United Kingdom, I love to recommend CIE Tours. I’ve personally toured with CIE on itineraries covering Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland.

CIE

An escorted coach tour with CIE Tours can be a great way to cover a lot of ground and see the main sites people crave. Great drivers, guides, food, coaches, hotels make it all seamless.

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For people that like to see a lot on a vacation, this is the way to do it. You will see and do a lot. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation with no schedule…this may not be for you. But, CIE does offer SELF DRIVE tours where you can do the driving and set your own schedule.

Many options and choices to be had. The beauty of these countries is amazing. The history of these countries is incredible. An unforgetable experience awaits you. All you need is someone to set you up with the itinerary that fits your travel style. That’s where we come in. We are trained and experienced in these tours and our assistance comes to you for FREE!

Contact us today to get started on your long awaited trip to Ireland and the U.K. We help you every step of the way. We are certified Ireland and Scotland Experts!

Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

Owner, Jolly Mon Vacations & River Cruise Guru

pete@jollymonvacations.com

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Why Use a Travel Agent?

In the age of DIY and Google, here is why you still need a travel agent:

You’re Tired of Wasting Time:

Ever been down the overwhelming rabbit hole of researching a vacation?

Save time and go with an expert who has been trained in your destination.

You’ll cut through the junk and get what you want.

You’re Tired of the Fine Print:

I’ve seen those online deals. “$99 Flights to Europe! All inclusives At $5 A Day!”

Read closer and they aren’t what they seem. A skilled travel agent can help

you decipher the clues. Is that a direct flight, or will you have a three-leg 25

hour journey? Are transfers included? Is that resort under construction?

Is the beach filled with seaweed? Ask a travel agent and you’ll know.

You’re Tired of Buyers Remorse:

Have you ever clicked “buy now” and then immediately felt anxious? Don’t settle

for wondering if you’ve done the right thing. Travel agents have endless resources

at their fingertips to answer any question you might have. Trust me, we’ve heard it all.

Agents network and share resources. If we don’t know an answer, we will find someone who does.

I recently read a quote that I love: “What’s the difference between a travel agent

and the internet? A travel agent can talk back.” The best part of my job is asking

questions. A good travel agent won’t make blind recommendations.

A good travel agent will ask questions, dig in for detail and really understand

what works best for you and your family.

Your vacation days and travel dollars are precious, so why put your faith

in a faceless, nameless website? You deserve expert advice and value for your dollar.

Go retro and use a travel agent.

www.JollyMonVacations.com

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Larson of Jolly Mon Vacations Earns CTC

NEWSBRIEF:

Larson of Jolly Mon Vacations Earns CTC

Peter Larson, owner of Jolly Mon Vacations in Grand Forks, ND, has recently earned the Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designation from The Travel Institute. This designation is awarded by The Travel Institute to travel professionals who complete a comprehensive, exam-based training program, demonstrate extensive industry knowledge and experience, and exemplify the highest standards of professionalism.

Pete Larson, CTC, has been a travel agent for 6 years and specializes in resort and river cruise vacations. Larson said, “I match clients to the right vacation experience without charging extra fees. Earning this elite CTC status demonstrates my commitment to clients who will now be better served by my increased knowledge and skills.”

Jolly Mon Vacations specializes in all-inclusive resort vacations and river cruises. We cater to both local and international customers.

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Pete Larson, CTC, DS, LS

Owner, Jolly Mon Vacations & River Cruise Guru

pete@jollymonvacations.com

218-779-3050

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Ireland & Scotland await you!

So, you’ve always dreamed about seeing Ireland and Scotland, but thought it was too much of a hassle planning it all? I’ve got the perfect solution for you!

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This is me at the Cliff’s of Moher, 2015.

Join our fully escorted tour and leave the planning and driving to a professional. We have group space reserved on a luxury motorcoach that will take you across both of these awesome countries. Transportation, hotels, most meals, admission to attractions, cruises, ferries and much more included. We have 22 seats of our 30 reserved, so act fast!

Contact Pete:  pete@jollymonvacations.com for more details.

ESCORTED SCOTLAND & IRELAND TOUR with CIE Tours

    -Our price is nearly $500 cheaper than direct online pricing!

CIE Tours, Scottish & Irish Dream
May 13, 2016, to May 26, 2016

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-Begins in Glasgow, Scotland, ending in Dublin, Ireland.

-Jolly Mon Vacations has 30 seats reserved and 20 are now sold! (10 seats left!)

Price:  $2,965 per person, double occupancy. (land only)

-Going alone? No problem, just pay an additional $605 single supplement.

-Airfare additional.

Tour Includes:
-Sightseeing by luxury coach
-Professional tour director
-13 nights in hotels listed
-Full breakfast daily (B) except on day 1
-9 dinners (D) including
– Scottish Evening in Edinburgh
– Merry Ploughboy Pub dinner and traditional show
– Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet
– 6 table d’hote dinners
-2 lunches (L)
-Welcome get-together drink
-Tours of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin
-Loch Lomond scenic cruise
-Ferries to Isle of Skye, from Scotland to Ireland and across the River Shannon
-Blair Athol Distillery whisky tasting and tour
-Sheepdog trials in Scotland and Ireland
-Galway tour and Connemara Marble Factory tea with scones
-Dublin open-top bus tour with a visit to Guinness Storehouse or General Post Office
-Visits and admissions to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Inveraray Castle, Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle,   Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre,Blair Castle, Glamis Castle, St Andrews, Edinburgh Castle, Titanic Belfast, Dublin Castle, Blarney Castle, Blarney Woollen Mills, Skellig Experience and Cliffs of Moher
-Headsets for walking tours
-Deluxe carry-on backpack, ticket wallet, luggage tags & strap
-All local taxes, hotel service charges & porterage for one suitcase per person
-Free Wi-Fi on coaches and in hotel lobbies

All it takes is a $250 per person deposit to reserve your seat!

Contact us today to grab this fantastic deal or get more information! Can’t make this date? No problem, we can find the perfect itinerary for your dates.

-Ask for our tour flyer with the day-to-day itinerary.

Email – pete@jollymonvacations.com

Call -​218-779-3050

www.JollyMonVacations.com

Check out CIE TOURS award winning tours, but let us do the booking for you. We’ll save you money and offer valuable advice you won’t get elsewhere.

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Cruise Lines Kick it up a Notch

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More Photo & Video.

What is there to do on a cruise ship?
Norwegian Cruise Lines has stepped things up with many innovative and fun things to do onboard. On a two or three story ropes course, you can zip line and even walk the plank over the side of the ship! A great adrenaline rush. They also have the fastest water slides at sea. And when they say fast…they actually take your breath away! Far better than any I’ve been on anywhere. Mini golf, loads of other water features, rock climbing walls, basketball, fitness centers, spa, Broadway shows, comedy, live music, magic, exquisite dining, bars, and even a fireworks show to cap off the night. And that’s just some of the things on board. Wait until you get to the islands!

Jolly Mon Vacations knows the ships and itineraries well. We assist you in finding the right ship for you and your family at no cost to you.

Lets get your adventure started!
pete@jollymonvacations.com
218-779-3050
www.JollyMonVacations.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
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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

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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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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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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!

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
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Amsterdam: The Netherlands

Amsterdam, April 2012

Part Two of our Scenic Crystal River Cruise Review.

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

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Today we are in the city center Amsterdam. We took an overnight flight into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport last night. our flight took us directly over Ireland and England into The Netherlands. Although this area isn’t really known for beaches, they looked pretty nice and people were enjoying them.

When we arrived at the airport, we proceeded through Passport Control and picked up our luggage. We bought train tickets from a kiosk and proceeded down to the platform. The train is only about 4 Euros each from airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station. It can be a little confusing, but it’s the cheapest and fastest route into Amsterdam. No worries, there is plenty of room on the train to bring your suitcases. You will have to be able to lift them up and down some stairs, however.

Train Ticket Kiosk Screen: 

Amsterdam Centraal Station:

This is located right near the cruise ship piers. Depending on where your ship is docked, it can be a short or long walk. Port of Amsterdam is located nearby and would be off to the right of the picture below.

Upon arrival at Centraal, we headed towards The Damrak on foot. With suitcases in tow, we walked to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza City Centre which was about two blocks away. A word of advice:  in Amsterdam, pedestrians can be easily run down by bicycles, cars, buses, trams and trains. Look both ways before you step into any roadway to include the bike lanes.

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     The Damrak:  Street where you enter Amsterdam from Centraal Station

The Diary of Anne Frank is an incredible story of human sacrifice and suffering in the hands of the Nazi’s. Today, we paid our respects and visited the Anne Frank Huis and Museum. This is a very moving experience. You get to see all the rooms of the home where they hid in the secret annex to prevent being sent to the death camps. Long lines stretched around the block and my best tip would be to buy tickets ONLINE before you go. You will be assigned a certain date and time to be there and you can walk right in past the lines! This is a DON’T MISS attraction in Amsterdam.

                                    The Secret Annex:  Anne Frank Huis

Amsterdam is a really fun and exciting city. You can walk pretty much anywhere and take in the scenery and city life. Canals abound and the architecture is beautiful. Communication is really not a problem as most everyone speaks English as well. Great restaurants and bars dot the downtown area as do the famous ‘coffee shops.’

Tip:  If you want a cup of coffee (Koffee), DO NOT look for it at a coffee shop. These are places where they sell and smoke marijuana. If you want coffee, head to a cafe. The regular coffee is quite strong and has a foamy layer on top.

Tip:  The clocks in Europe are based on the 24 hour clock. (aka: military time)

Tip:  Check out the canal areas at night. The lights give off an incredible night-time ambiance.

The famous Red Light District is a favorite for many tourists. It is quite different to experience other cultures like this. Scantily clad prostitutes are sitting in the windows luring in men. This is legal and regulated by the government. You will also find ‘live sex shows’ and sex toy shops in this area.

The Red Light District of Amsterdam

Stay tuned for the next part of this River Cruise Review!

Scenic Crystal 2012.

For more information or to get free assistance with your river cruise contact Pete below:

Pete Larson

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

218-779-3050

pete@jollymonvacations.com