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Comparing Airfares: What You Need to Know!

Comparing Airfares:  What You Need to Know!

By Pete Larson,

Travel Consultant,

Jolly Mon Vacations

The major airlines
are evolving constantly, and the way we buy airline tickets has changed in a
short time. The airlines have basically forced us to search down our own
information via a website and book online. Most will charge an extra fee to
book by phoning their call centers. The internet makes it pretty easy to search
down flights, but comparing them to find the best fares is becoming much
harder. They want travelers to act as their own travel agent, but rarely does
the traveler know the airlines, the marketing tricks, or the search techniques
of the well seasoned travel agent. This can lead to hurried decisions,
misinformation, huge unexpected expenses and spoiled vacations.

Travel consumers are
confused and airlines like it that way. Confusion turns into profit for the
companies when travelers spend more money than they expected to. Airlines are
making 100% of their profit by these ancillary fees. Airlines have the right to
make money, but it shouldn’t be done by withholding information that consumers
need to make choices.

Airlines don’t
disclose these fees until after you’ve fallen for a low fare. Sometimes this
isn’t until after you’ve bought your ticket. Trying to figure out these fees
beforehand is both time consuming and frustrating. They entice you with an
unbelievable deal only to add fees onto the price so it only ‘appears’ to be a
deal, duping customers into buying without knowing the FULL price. Quoted
airfares exclude many items that now cost extra. Extra fees are being charged
for baggage, but some airlines are charging extra for other things as well.
Fuel surcharges are ever-changing and some airlines have a fee for a seat
assignment of for priority boarding. You almost have to be an accountant to
figure out the true price of flying!  It’
s much more difficult these days to figure out which carrier has the lowest
price. Even when you find a low fare, the add-ons change that in a hurry.

Entire airlines have
vanished from some of the major airfare search engines. This makes comparing
individual airlines much harder when you have to jump from site to site.

Buying airfare or any travel is best done by relying  on a
professional. Travel is not a commodity, and cannot be purchased that way.
There are just too many variables to make comparison shopping easy. More and
more travelers are realizing that vacations are best when they are planned and
booked by a travel agent. We study the rules, know the airlines, visit the
resorts, sail on the ships, read the fine print and know what things should
cost.

Searching for travel
can be overwhelming these days. Information overload keeps people confused and
companies intentionally mislead you for a sale. That’s what you are to them….’a
sale.’ To Jolly Mon Vacations, you are a very important client. We work in YOUR
best interest, advise you on reliable choices, make sure everything is in order
so your vacation is stress free and enjoyable. With Jolly Mon Vacations…there
are no SURPRISE fees! For most all our services, there are no fees.

Contact us and we will get you started in the right direction.
We believe an educated traveler is a happy and safe traveler.

Email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

Phone or text:  218-779-3050

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.facebook.com/jollymonvacations

Twitter:  TheJollyMon

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Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Ships 2011

Hello from the River Cruise Guru and Jolly Mon Vacations!

Here is some real exciting news from Uniworld!

In 2011, Uniworld will launch three NEW beautiful boutique cruise ships:

  • The ultra-luxurious S.S. Antoinette will sail on our very popular “Castles along the Rhine” itinerary and will elevate the standard of river cruising.

S.S. Antoinette Stateroom

 

The Douro Spirit—the premiere ship on the Douro River—will sail Portugal and Spain’s spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-designated Douro River Valley, and every stateroom will feature a French balcony.

  • The lovely River Victoria will take our guests to the treasure trove of architectural and cultural gems of our “Imperial Waterways of Russia” itinerary with all staterooms on the top two decks having full balconies.

Similar to our entire fleet, these ships will offer an exceptional, unrivaled river cruise experience for our guests who want to enjoy the best sights in Europe and Russia in world-class comfort. In addition, Uniworld will have completed the remodeling of our entire fleet in 2011 with the final three being River Ambassador, River Baroness, and River Princess.

For FREE assistance in choosing, comparing and booking a river cruise, please contact Pete at  The River Cruise Guru. We are river cruise SPECIALISTS, and we are standing by to asssit you. Full service travel counselor and River Cruise Specialists.

Pete:  pete@rivercruiseguru.com

218-779-3050

The River Cruise Guru & Jolly Mon Vacations

www.jollymonvacations.com

www.rivercruiseguru.com

Contact us today to get started on YOUR dream river cruise!

Europe, China, Russia…destination anywhere!

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S.S. Antoinette Will Be The Most Spectacular River Cruise Ship in Europe

Uniworld’s Newly Built “Super Ship,” S.S. Antoinette, Sailing Castles along the Rhine in March 2011 Embodies the Spirit of Château de Versailles (LOS ANGELES) – What began as an inspiration, a dream without limitations, is about to become the ship you’ll never forget. When you step aboard the S.S. Antoinette, you’ll immediately understand why the “S.S.” precedes “Antoinette,” as this appropriately means “Super Ship,” Uniworld’s newest addition to their collection of one-of-a-kind boutique river cruise ships.

Walking onto the S.S. Antoinette, you will immediately feel as if you stepped into France’s Château de Versailles during the late 18th century with the character of the past thoughtfully blended with unusual elements creating luxurious elegance with welcoming warmth. A blue Strauss 10-foot Baccarat chandelier with huge sapphires, originally hung in New York’s historic Tavern on the Green, graces the two-story lobby. The finest Brazilian marble adorns the walls and floors and a sparkling 19th-century Venetian glass mirror rests high above the reception desk reflecting an air of grandeur.

It is clear as one continues to gaze around the remarkable surroundings, the S.S. Antoinette shares the same exquisite standards and meticulous attention to detail reflective throughout all of Uniworld’s fleet. Haute design, yet comfortable décor symbolize the style used by Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, godmother and namesake of Uniworld’s River Beatrice, and President of Uniworld’s sister company the award-winning Red Carnation Hotel Collection; her daughter, Mrs. Antoinette Tollman, godmother and namesake to the new S.S. Antoinette; and Mr. Brian Brennan, lead designer.

The S.S. Antoinette will also be Uniworld’s largest ship length wise at 443 ft. and at a width of 37.5 ft. According to Guy Young, President of Uniworld, “We decided to use the additional space to create extra spacious staterooms and suites for our guests, so there is minimal capacity increase.” Most of the 73 staterooms measure at 196 sq. ft. with 20 staterooms being 163 sq. ft. There are eight junior suites measuring 294 sq. ft. and the Royal Suite at 391 sq. ft.

“Launching in March 2011 on Uniworld’s popular Castles along the Rhine itinerary, this ‘Super Ship,’ S.S. Antoinette, will clearly set the standard in luxury and innovation,” states Young. “Many first-of-a-kind features not found on any other river cruise ship have been added to the S.S. Antoinette,” furthers Young. Among the many innovative features included will be top deck suites and staterooms with full open-air private balconies, which convert to enclosed conservatories; and a 20-seat cinema with state-of-the-art flat-screen Dolby surround sound and plush seats for comfortable movie viewing where guests can enjoy a varied selection of great movies including classics, comedy, adventure, and drama.

Equally warm and welcoming are the S.S. Antoinette’s public areas. In the spirit of the French “Salon,” Uniworld’s main lounge and bar, Bar Malmaison, is an inviting haven for gatherings. A mix of fine antiques along with inspirational paintings in carved gilt frames from different periods are certain to evoke conversation or deep contemplation. Windows are dressed in Figueroa striped silk taffeta by GP and Baker and floors are covered in rich custom-made carpets.

The sun deck will feature the Red Carnation Hotels’ famous Leopard Lounge with its unique, leopard print carpeting, elephant-head bar rails and many other jungle-like touches that will make this an elegant and enchanting, yet playful venue to meet with friends and family. Additional venues for added pleasure include a heated swimming pool in mosaic ocean blue tile with a sand-white “A” in the middle, which is created by the famous South African mosaic tile artists, Jane du Rand. Du Rand’s intricate mosaic mural work can also be seen in the restaurant, Restaurant le Versailles, where she has captured the essence of the great gardens of Versailles.

 Arranged throughout the ship, is a collection of carefully selected original art from personal collections. Sketches in black and white, color lithographs, and oil on canvas paintings from a range of great artists, including Humphrey Jennings, John Bellany, and an extensive selection of work by Russian painters Yuri Matushevski and Viktor Templi are perfectly placed for guests’ enjoyment.

 “There is no doubt in my mind that S.S. Antoinette will be the most spectacular river cruise ship in Europe. We are very fortunate to have owners who are so invested, personally and financially, in making Uniworld the very best river cruise company,” adds Young.

Los Angeles-based Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line, is recognized in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best River Cruises; Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Gold List and their Readers’ Poll for Top 25 Small Ships, and their Readers’ Choice Awards for World’s Top Small Ship Cruise Lines and Best River Cruise Ships; Cruise Critic’s Editors’ Pick for Best River Cruise Line and Best New River Ship for the River Beatrice; and Top 3 cruise line ranking in Zagat Survey® in the categories of Top Cabins and Top Dining, and is the only river cruise line represented in their cruise survey with the best of the best in the cruise industry. Uniworld features luxuriously appointed boutique cruise ships with an average capacity of 130 guests; expertly planned itineraries with custom-blended, included shore excursions; world-class, gourmet cuisine; and award-winning hospitality from an all-English speaking staff. The company offers over 500 departures on 39 itineraries sailing on 12 rivers in 20 countries throughout Europe, Russia, Egypt, and China.

Contact your River Cruise Guru for more information and booking of a river cruise today! pete@rivercruiseguru.com or

218-779-3050. Pete is a River Cruise Specialist and will ensure you choose the right ship for your next river cruise!

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

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New River Cruise Ships for 2011

New River Cruise Ships  for 2011

Uniworld River Cruises’ River Antoinette, which will launch in March on the Rhine River, will have a 20-by-13-foot, heated swimming pool and glass-enclosed balconies. The River Antoinette, sister ship to the River Beatrice, will be the largest ship in Uniworld’s fleet at 443 feet in length and 37.5 feet wide. Most of the 73 staterooms will be 196 square feet, and 20 staterooms will be 163 square feet. There will be eight junior suites measuring 294 square feet each and one owner’s suite at 391 square feet. The River Antoinette will sail Uniworld’s Castles Along the Rhine itinerary.

This year, Viking River Cruises said it was investing $250 million to build eight new ships over the next three years. The first of those new ships, the 264-passenger Viking Emerald, will replace the Viking Century Sun on China’s Yangtze River in 2011. The Emerald will be 361 feet long, and will have 128 staterooms, including 2 presidential suites that will measure 840 square feet each. All staterooms will have a balcony with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.

Viking Emerald

April

Uniworld is introducing a newbuild in Portugal in April, the 128-passenger Duoro Spirit, which will replace the 126-passenger Duoro Queen on Uniworld’s Portugal, Spain and Duoro River Valley itinerary. Uniworld will have a long-term charter on the Duoro Spirit, which is being built at the Navalria shipyard in Portugal by the ship’s owner, Douro Azul.

May

In May, Avalon Waterways is unveiling the Avalon Panorama, which will feature 64 newly-designed, 200-square-foot suites on the top two decks. Each suite will have a seating area adjacent to an 11-foot wide, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic window. The suites will be in addition to 17 staterooms on the lower deck that measure 172 square feet each. Avalon employed a new interior-design team to tackle the Panorama’s design features, which include marble bathrooms, new Avalon-branded bedding called Comfort Collection by Avalon and love seats in the suites.

Also in May, Uniworld will unveil the 206-passenger River Victoria on the Volga River. Uniworld signed a five-year deal to charter the Russian river ship, which is being completely refurbished. Series of three cabins will be combined into two, which will create cabins ranging in size from 135 to 210 square feet. There will be 10 suites.

The River Victoria will be joined on the Volga by the newly renovated 212-passenger Amakatarina. AMAWATERWAYS has signed a five-year lease agreement with the ship’s owner, Russian company Vodohod. The Amakatarina will replace Ama’s existing leased vessel in Russia, the 160-passenger Tolstoy. The ship is being stripped entirely and is being converted from a 400-passenger to a 212-passenger vessel with 106 cabins, 76 of which will feature balconies.

July

Viking Prestige

Viking’s new 188-passenger Viking Prestige will sail the 8-day Romantic Danube sailing from Budapest to Nuremberg (and the reverse). It is being built at the Neptun Shipyard in Rostock, Germany. It is being built with ecologically friendly engines, suites that measure 310 square feet, and French balconies on the upper and middle decks.

August

Tauck World Discovery is back in the shipbuilding game too, with the new 118-passenger Treasures scheduled to set sail in August. Currently under construction at the Vahali Shipyards in Gendt, the Netherlands, Treasures will feature new beds and an enhanced cabin décor, both of which Tauck is implementing fleet-wide for 2011. The ship will sail on five different Tauck itineraries throughout Europe.

September

AMALotus

AMAWATERWAYS is launching its second Mekong River ship next year. The 124-passenger Amalotus — which will make stops in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, Cambodia — will have standard cabins that will be 226 square feet, 10 junior suites that will be 290 square feet and two suites will be 452 square feet each. Like with its first 94-passenger Mekong ship La Marguerite, Ama Waterways will have partial ownership in the Amalotus as well.

River Cruising is the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry, and it shows. Book your river cruise with a certified River Cruise Expert:  The River Cruise Guru, pete@rivercruiseguru.com or 218-779-3050. Get your ‘river cruise’ on!

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations…destination anywhere.

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Pete Larson,

Owner/President

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An Overview: River Cruising

 A river cruise, at first glance, seems like a wonderfully tranquil way to see some of the most historic towns and cities in Europe. Wait, did I say tranquil? Appearances are deceiving. Unlike ocean cruises, voyages along Europe’s waterways rarely offer much time “at sea.” And in port, there are busy sightseeing schedules included at all stops, which range from major cities like Amsterdam and Vienna to delightful, small towns and villages such as Austria’s Durnstein and Germany’s Breisach.

The biggest challenge about planning a European river cruise is identifying which itinerary most intrigues you. We’re here to help you narrow down your choice. But, before we get started, here are some things you should know, followed by a few tips:

  • Many river cruises are a week long. More exotic trips can occasionally stretch from 10 days to two weeks or longer. There are now some shorter cruises priced far less to give you ‘a taste’ of river cruising. These are great for a tighter budget, or if you simply don’t have all the vacation time needed to extend your trip.
  • They almost always start from fantastic cities; most trips include an overnight onboard, but if not, do try to plan a pre- or post-cruise stay. A few nights exploring Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna, Nuremburg, or Basel will enhance your vacation experience. These extra nights can be added right into the price of your cruise fare.
  • In almost all cases, daily shore excursions are included in the fares you pay. They’ll run along the lines of pretty basic introductory tours of the cities and towns you visit. Some companies such as Uniworld also offer fee-extra tour options that are a bit more unusual. A half day tour is usually followed up by some free time to do what you would like.
  • One caveat about cruising Europe’s rivers: The season typically runs from April to October, but be aware that heavy rain and spring flooding can make the rivers swell and the locks become impassable. (Many are under bridges, so if the water is too high, boats can’t fit underneath.) Likewise, if there’s a drought, low water can be a problem. If boats can’t move, you’ll be taken to the sights by motor coach. Christmas Market cruises run late November into December, and are a whole other blog post!
  • Wine cruises, enrichment, music, culture, or tulip cruises can add to the excitement of river cruising. There are many themes that help to draw in a wide variety of interests.

For more information, stay tuned…more to come! Subscribe to this blog, or LIKE us on facebook at: 

www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

Contact Pete, your River Cruise Specialist at:  pete@rivercruiseguru.com for more information on booking a river cruise today!

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations, owned and operated by Pete Larson

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How does a river cruise differ from an ocean cruise?

How does a river cruise differ from an ocean cruise?  

There are many differences between todays mass-market cruises and a much smaller, more intimate river cruise. On an ocean cruise the huge mega-ship is the prime destination. The ship is like an entire floating resort. A river cruise ship is more like a floating boutique hotel that brings you to the desired destination. River cruises offer a very cozy environment with only 100 to 180 guests on board, and within one week you can meet all of them and make many new friends. It is an educational experience, and it is as easy to get on and off the ship as walking in and out of a hotel. (On European itineraries) boats are docked most of the time in the center of a gorgeous city or quaint village, surrounded by lovely vineyards or old European heritage sites. 

Each day is a new port, and there aren’t any ‘sea days’ where you waste your time watching belly flop competitions or kids running amok. Each day you will arrive in a new port in the heart of it all. You will step off the ship and begin your new tour of discovery, which is also included in the price! That is another big difference, there are many more things included in your cruise fare with rivefr cruises. When the price is nearly all-inclusive…you will know your costs ‘up-front.’ No surprises.

River cruise vessels are only 3 decks high, and made to fit under the pictureque stone bridges that dot the waterways of Europe. You won’t get lost looking for a place to eat like on the big cruise ships. These small ships are built to specifically to observe the passing scenery, with lots of open deck space and many large interior windows. Imagine, floating by in your deck chair with ancient castles sitting high atop the river valley, wildlife in every direction, and vineyards stretched as far as the eye can see. Pass quaint villages where the culture unfolds before you, and sail into the heart of large cities…without a traffic jam.

You will see many different countries on your trip, and you only unpack once. No living out of your suitcase like on a bus tour driving town to town in close quarters, nor dragging suitcases from hotel to hotel. Your fabulous boutique hotel goes with you. What better way to travel through Europe?

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River Cruise Series: River Cruise 101

River Cruise Guru will be posting a series of informational posts about river cruising. Learn many things, such as why its the fastest growing section of the cruise market, how to pick the right cruise line, and all the options of itineraries.

Information about differences of each cruise line, the excursions they offer, and the onboard amenties and inclusions. If you have any questions, contact pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Posts start today, so SUBSCRIBE to this blog using the email link on this page. You will get notified of new posts by email.

Also, LIKE our facebook pages at:

www.facebook.com/jollymonvacations

www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

For more information, contact your RIVER CRUISE EXPERT:  pete@rivercruiseguru.com

River Cruise Guru is a branch of Jolly Mon Vacations:  www.jollymonvacations.com

 www.rivercruiseguru.com

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Christmas Market Cruise: A Holiday Celebration

If you love the Christmas holidays, then get in the spirit with a Christmas Market river cruise!

Many old European towns – such as Salzburg, Strasbourg, Vienna and Nuremberg – host old-fashioned Christmas markets to celebrate the season.

 The European Christmas markets are a great way to get into the holiday spirit! The hand-made crafts, the food, the delicious smells, the lights – not even Ebeneezer Scrooge could deny the spirit of Christmas!

There are land tours that travel from one town to the next, visiting Christmas markets in each village or large city. Most will require travel by bus (comfortable, but sometimes cramped), and packing and unpacking your bag at another hotel almost every day. Forget it!

One of the best ways to enjoy the markets is on a Christmas Market river cruise. Virtually all river cruise lines offer Holiday Market cruises and each cruise visits at least 4 or 5 towns (if not more!).

And when you’re not shopping the markets or exploring the town, you’ll be relaxing on a comfortable river cruise ship, watching the world go by as you sip hot chocolate in the lounge or your cabin – much better than the seat of a bus!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB5lzvW1yGQ]

Since towns and villages have always been located on a river or other waterway, the river cruise ships can take you right to the heart of town. You get off the ship, and start exploring! No need to travel from a hotel on the outskirts to the heart of the city; no need to pack and unpack every day, either – your “hotel” travels with you, so there’s more time for enjoying the sights.

And there are many rivers in Europe, and many areas to explore.

A Danube River Cruise will take you to Nuremberg, Germany and Vienna, Austria and possibly Prague or Budapest. This is the most common route, and is offered by Viking, Uniworld, Avalon , and AMA Waterways.

A Rhine River Cruise takes you to Cologne and Heidelberg, Germany or even  Strasbourg, France and is available from most cruise lines. Enjoy Christmas in Germany with gingerbread and hot, spiced wine (glühwein).

The sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the spirit of Christmas. This is the land where Christmas celebrations began. Contact your River Cruise Specialist today! pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Jolly Mon Vacations

Pete is a certified ‘River Cruise Specialist’ with River Cruise Guru and Owner/operator of Jolly Mon Vacations. He will ensure your planning goes smoothly, your booking is perfect, your price is the best value, and you have the vacation of your dreams!

Your Christmas experience awaits! Call today! Pete:  218-779-3050