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Are You Using All Your Vacation Days?

Americans are taking less and less time off from work these days. They actually earn time off and aren’t using it all.

Vacation not only gets you away from the job, it purges the mind and refreshes the soul. Vacations can reduce your stress and anxiety. They promote your well being and can improve your health.

Family vacations can be fun, educational promote bonding and create life-long memories. Couples can revive their love for each other without distractions. Celebrate a birthday, a milestone, an anniversary, a honeymoon or an event. Getaway just to relax and Remove yourself from your everyday life.

Are you using all your vacation days? I can help you with that.

Pete Larson, CTC,DS, LS

www.jollymonvacations.com 

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

Amabella
Amabella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About AmaWaterways

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

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

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

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

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
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Sandals Resorts 2012 Star Diamond Awards

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

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

The impressive awards and distinguished group of winners included:

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

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

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

You can’t go wrong, we guarantee!

Contact us today!

pete@jollymonvacations.com or 218.779.3050

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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 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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River Cruising: After booking comes the docs

Once your River Cruise Specialist has helped you choose your itinerary, finds a cruise line and ship that fits your style, books your hotels, transfers, air, insurance and everything is paid and in order…the waiting game begins. Watching that clock tick until that sail date FINALLY comes.

About two to three weeks prior to your cruise, most river cruise lines will send out your documents. In the cruising world, you’ll hear them simply referred to as….DOCS. What they are is mostly boarding documentation, ship information, itinerary, medical forms and other general information about where to go once you arrive in the port city. Depending on the cruise line, your document package could contain many different things.

Our documents have arrived from Scenic Cruises, a branch of Scenic Tours, which bills itself as a 5-Star Luxury All-inclusive river cruise line. Here is a picture of what Scenic Cruises delivered to us with our documents:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Two Scenic Tours backpacks with multiple compartments which will be great for excursions and tours.

-Two drawstring laundry bags for keeping the dirty clothes separtated.

-Zippered portfolio containing the docs, luggage tags, itinerary and medical forms.

-A handy full-colored guide book containing information on all the river areas our cruise will cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the docs you can expect for any basic river cruise. Read over them very carefully and follow the instructions contained in them.

Next up….

Packing:  If you’ve never packed for a cruise before, your travel agent can be your best friend. They know what you will need, what is not allowed, how to pack everything and what type of luggage restrictions you may face with air and cruise lines.

When traveling to foreign countries, there are things to think about like:

-What type of documentation, visas or passports will be required.

-Electrical differences: ensuring you have the right adapters and converters to power up and charge your devices.

-Currency differences: ensuring you know where to get local currency, how to get it and what to tell your bank before you leave.

-Where can I purchase additional tours or hotels for pre-cruise stays so you can explore.

-How to get the best airfare and insurance to cover all our expenses and medical.

-Are you traveling to a safe area and what you should do if trouble arises.

All this and much more can be found out from your travel agent and river cruise specialist! River Cruise Guru is a certified River Cruise Specialist. Our job is to assist you from start to finish, get you the best price and value possible and ensure your trip is a flawless as it can be…all for NO EXTRA FEES! That’s right…you won’t pay a dime extra for our expert services. Expert service for free…you can’t beat that deal!

Call or click today:

pete@rivercruiseguru.com

Call or text:  218-779-3050

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru

Jolly Mon Vacations and River Cruise Guru

Pete Larson, President

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
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Scenic Tours River Cruise: Scenic Crystal 2012

I encourage you to follow us on our travels on the brand new river ship from Scenic Tours: Scenic Crystal. We are embarking on her very first cruise from the shipbuilding in Amsterdam to the christening ceremony in Rudesheim, Germany. I’ll be blogging about it as it happens as well as posting the first pictures and videos of this new ship.

Please become a follower and subscribe to Jolly Mon Vacations Blog. Feel free to ask questions or comment and share this with friends as well.

We will see if were paying attention to our posts and awarding prizes to those that do. Each time you share our Facebook pages or blog posts enters you to win something fabulous.

Watch here and at www.facebook.com/rivercruiseguru
And www.facebook.com/jollymonvacations

Email: pete@jolloymonvacations.com
www.JollyMonVacations.com

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Jolly Mon Vacations is IATAN Accredited

What does Jolly Mon Vacations ‘IATAN accreditation’ mean to you?

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

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

IATAN accredited agencies must demonstrate that:

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

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

www.JollyMonVacations.com assists you with your vacation plans and doesn’t charge any fees for booking packages. Contact us today for your free assistance. Save money and receive professional travel advice…now that’s VALUE!

Pete Larson

President, Jolly Mon Vacations

218-779-3050

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com
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SANDALS RESORTS OFFER COMPLIMENTARY RENEWAL OF VOWS CEREMONY

SANDALS RESORTS AND BEACHES RESORTS OFFER GUESTS

~ Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts Continue Helping Guests Celebrate Love ~

Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts are offering guests the chance to rekindle their love by providing an exclusive and intimate Renewal of Vows ceremony free of charge.  Couples who book a minimum six-night stay by January 27, 2012 for travel from September 4, 2012 through November 10, 2012, will have the opportunity to celebrate their marriage all over again at some of the most romantic places in the Caribbean.

Sandals Resorts’ and Beaches Resorts’ Renewal of Vows ceremonies are offered in a picturesque ceremony location dressed with a Beautiful Beginning wedding theme by Martha Stewart™ and include recorded musical accompaniment.  After receiving a renewal of vows certificate, the newly vowed husband and wife along with six guests can celebrate with a sparkling wine and chilled hors d’oeuvres reception.  The happy couple will then enjoy a second honeymoon dinner at a resort restaurant of their choice and a continental breakfast-in-bed the following morning.

The Renewal of Vows package also includes a personal consultant for the ceremony, a beautiful bouquet and boutonniere, a Renewal of Vows marriage officiate, two-tiered cake and one 5×7 second honeymoon photograph.  Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts make it easy for couples to say “I do” all over again in paradise.

As with all Luxury Included® Vacations, a stay at Sandals Resorts or Beaches Resorts offers more quality inclusions than any other resort company on the planet with superior accommodations, endless gourmet dining options, unlimited premium brand wine and spirits, nightly entertainment, watersports including snorkeling and scuba diving for certified divers and a myriad of other exclusive amenities.

Contact Pete your Certified Sandals Specialist today for your free vow ceremony and second honeymoon!

Phone:  218-779-3050

Email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

Website:  www.JollyMonVacations.com

Website:  www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/jollymonvacations

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New Nonstop Flights from Minneapolis, Milwaukee to Caribbean & Mexico

In response to increasing demand for nonstop flight service for the peak winter travel months, Funjet Vacations has just announced new nonstop charter and value flights from Minneapolis and Milwaukee to popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Destinations include Jamaica, Punta Cana, Cancun/Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Ixtapa and Puerto Vallarta from both Milwaukee and Minneapolis plus Los Cabos from Minneapolis.

These flights will operate seasonally for departures as early as December 18 on various dates through May 19, 2012 nonstop from Minneapolis via Sun Country Airlines and Milwaukee on AirTran Airways with morning departures and afternoon returns available.  All flights also include one free checked bag per passenger plus free XM Radio for travelers on AirTran Airways.

Travel Agents who book these nonstop value flights will also receive special instant savings of up to $150 off per reservation. Jolly Mon Vacations can further help you with more information and booking. As always, NO FEES! Our assistance and booking services are COMPLIMENTARY!

Contact Pete:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

Phone:  218-779-3050

www.JollyMonVacations.com

www.RiverCruiseGuru.com

www.facebook.com/jollymonvacations

www.twitter.com/thejollymon

www.twitter.com/rivercruiseguru

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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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All-Inclusive Resorts 101

All-Inclusive Resorts:  Lets Get Started!

I put together an informative series about All-Inclusive Resorts. I will release them over the course of the next month or two.  I hope you find them helpful, and that you will use this information to help guide you in your future vacations. I will also post them on the Jolly Mon Vacations official Blog as well for future reference. If you find that you are ready to try a resort, don’t hesitate to contact me right away. Jolly Mon Vacations is with you every step of the way. Enjoy!
Q:  What is an all-inclusive resort all about?

A:  An all-inclusive resort is a great vacation concept, at a great resort, in a great location, at a great value for what it includes in the price. At most resorts, all-inclusive means it includes most things you would have to pay extra for are included up front. You know the total cost of your vacation up front, which makes saving and planning much easier.

 

 

Q:  What is included in the price?

A:   The things included in a true All-Inclusive (which I will call AI’s) are:Accommodations, meals and snacks, with no exclusions, unlimited drinks, transportation to and from the airport, gratuities at the resort, resort taxes, daily and nightly entertainment, tennis, snorkeling, water skiing (some resorts), sailing, windsurfing, kayaks, paddle boats, swimming pools, hot tubs, scuba diving and lessons (some resorts), exercise/weight rooms, fitness centers, Other amenities may be included depending on the resort and the room category such as room service, golf (greens fees), off-site tours.

 That being said, some AI’s include more than others. Some also have better amenities, better liquors, better food, better facilities, etc.

Q:  How can I determine what resort is right for me or my family?

A:  There are resorts out there geared toward families, resorts geared toward couples, resorts geared toward the ‘uninhibited’, resorts geared to the adventurous…the list goes on. To study all the resort options available to you would take massive amounts of time, and would still be a gamble in your selection.

This is where the well-trained services of a Travel Agent are truly needed. We not only attend classes given by both resorts, countries, and vendors…but we get a chance to visit these resorts and see them for ourselves. This way, we can ‘qualify’ each clients needs and desires to a particular AI resort. Shopping for travel via an internet company like Expedia, or a discounter is just too risky. You won’t get personalized suggestions, and they aren’t going to steer you to the BEST resort for YOU. They will steer you by PRICE to a resort THEY want you to go to.

No matter how you choose to approach this, these are the facts. ‘Buyer Beware’ when it comes to travel. Many people find out THE HARD WAY, and I hope to set you in the RIGHT direction.As with any vacation, expectations and picking the right resort are major contributors to an unforgettable vacation. If this criteria is met, it is hard to find any negatives. At All-Inclusive Resorts every crew and staff member is dedicated to making your resort vacation the best it can be. Call us for help in planning the vacation of a lifetime!

 

Q:  What is not included at an All-Inclusive Resort?

A:  Baggage handling at the airport, some off-site tours, gift shop purchases, most Spa services, and departure tax (depending on the package these can be included). It is a good idea to bring some money for off-site activities. A departure tax of $15 to $30 per person is required in most Caribbean and Mexican airports. These fees are collected when you leave the country.  Most packages now include these taxes, but be sure and ask if the departure tax is included for the particular package you choose.

What’s Next?

In our upcoming editions, we will discuss many more things:

  • What do these resorts offer?
  • Will my kids be bored?
  • We want a quiet, romantic place… where do we turn?
  • What type of entertainment should I expect?
  • What is a realistic price for this vacation?
  • What options are there in accommodations? Is a room just a room?
  • What countries have them that we should consider?
  • Can we get married at a resort? Do they really host weddings?
  • I’ve not been out of the country, what type of ID will I need?
  • How do I go about booking the vacation? Can we lay a deposit?
  • How far in advance should I make reservations?
  • What about hurricanes?
  • …and much more!

 Call Pete at:  218-779-3050 to find out more, or to book an all-inclusive resort today! Email me:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

Your all-inclusive resort and river cruise specialist!

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Destination: Los Cabos, Mexico

Destination:  Los Cabos, Mexico

Where the heck is it?

Los Cabos is located on Mexico’s West coast, at the Southern point of the

Baja Peninsula. Where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.

Pictured above is the beautiful Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa.
Why You Should Go to Los Cabos  Just visualize yourself in these pictures!

Cabo is well known for its sandy beaches, sunny skies, world-class

Scuba diving locations, championship golf courses, and the distinctive

rocky arch El Arco de Cabo San Lucas.

Commonly called ‘Cabo’, the area consists of a resort area spanning

from the city of Cabo San Lucas to San José del Cabo. The 20 mile resort

area in between is know as ‘the Corridor.’ The Corridor is host to many

luxury resorts and championship golf courses.

 Cabo’s Fantastic All-inclusive Resorts Is that you lounging by the pool?

There are plenty of different accomodations located around Cabo.

Some of the most popular are:  Dreams, RIU, Crowne Plaza, Melia,

Royal Solaris and Barcelo.  Pete is standing by to assist you with

additional information on any of these resorts, and is a certified

Master Agent’ for Dreams, Secrets, Now, and Zoetry Resorts owned

by AMResorts.

 

Activities in CaboHere are some great things to do in Cabo:

  • SCUBA diving/ Snorkeling
  • Whale watching / Dolphins
  • Golfing world-class courses
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Beaches/ Sunbathing
  • Watersports/ Kayaking/ Jet Skiing/ Surfing
  • Horseback riding/ ATVing/ Hiking
  • Culture/ Eco tours
  • Dining / Nightlife / Shopping / Weddings
  • Reconnecting / Making memories
 Where Do We Go From Here? How can I learn more, or book a vacation?

Its simple. Send an email to pete@jollymonvacations.com, or call

Pete at 218.779.3050. Whether you are interested in a resort, a

cruise in Europe, or a trip to the islands…JMV’s is here to help.

There are no fees for our service, so you can’t go wrong.

Why take chances with your hard earned money? The internet is

full of travel scams, and people ready to take your money. It’s full

of misleading information, confusing fine print, and liquidators

with ‘too good to be true’ prices.

You could spend hours on the internet trying to book yourself a

vacation. You could end up with a room facing the dumpster, 

a pool that’s closed for repairs, and food that baked under a heat

lamp. Who will be looking out for YOU? Your discount website?

Sure. Call them when you miss your connecting flight because

of a delay. What will be their response when you reach that call 

center in Pakistan?

Trust in Jolly Mon Vacations. Pete is a trained destination specialist,

an expert in cruise lines and resorts, and is also accredited with IATAN,

which is the International Association of Travel Agents Network. He is 

experienced, well-cruised, and well-traveled. His knowledge, experience,

education and training is invaluable. He will use it to assist you in

finding the best vacation, at the best value for your money. Safe, simple,

complete.

 It’s like traveling with a friend, I’m with you to the end. That’s my

VIP pledge to you.

 PS….JMV’s loves your referrals! If someone you refer books

with us, JMV’s will pay you cash!

 

Contact Us:You can learn more about Jolly Mon Vacations at:

Website:  www.jollymonvacations.com

Email:  pete@jollymonvacations.com

Call Pete at:  218-779-3050

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Saving in Vegas: 10 tips

Saving in Vegas:  10 tips

  • Avoid travelling to Las Vegas during large conventions, poker tournaments or sports event like the NCAA Basketball Final Four Weekend which can easily book up the best hotels in the area far in advance, leaving few choices at high prices.
  • The water fountain show outside the Bellagio, as seen in “Ocean’s Eleven”, is free to watch and runs every 15 minutes. It’s even more stunning in the evening when the lights are turned on.
  • Head to Circus Circus for a free circus-style show with acrobatics and animals, just be forewarned that it attracts a large crowd. It runs daily at 11:00.
  • Stroll through the Venetian, with its replica St. Mark’s Square and Grand Canal, it’s hard to believe it’s not actually Venice. The boutique shops inside are out of most visitor’s budgets but window shopping is free.
  • When it comes to public transportation, ride it free when you can. There are two free trams. One runs between Mandala Bay, Luxor and the Excalibur while the other runs between Mirage and Treasure Island. There is also a free shuttle bus between selected hotels… ask at your hotel concierge desk.
  • When dinner calls, head to the buffets. Vegas is famous for its ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet dinners but they don’t usually appeal to travellers who want a memorable dining experience. For cheaper prices, find a restaurant off the Strip.
  • Be realistic when gaming, the chance of hitting it “big” is less than 5% in Vegas so determine how much money you can afford to lose before arriving and stop playing once its gone, simple. If you ask a slots guru, they’ll say your best bet at winning is at the Palms.
  • Visit the CityCenter complex museum for an afternoon of art appreciation. The Strip is in-your-face overwhelming and fine art and culture is not its strongest point but past the lights you can discover world-class paintings and beautiful architecture, all for free and open to the public. Some hotels and casinos also have art galleries worth checking out.
  • See attractions beyond the limits of Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Zion National Park are all within easy reach from Las Vegas and are great and very affordable side-trips from Vegas.
  • When leaving give yourself more time than usual at McCarran Airport. The lines are notoriously long and although very close to the city’s attractions, many travellers think they have more time than they do. Missed flights are always expensive to replace.
  • Tip #11:  Contact pete@jollymonvacations.com for more tips or help booking your next Las Vegas getaway. www.jollymonvacations.com

 

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Cruising: The Benefits

If  you’ve never taken a cruise before, consider the benefits of taking a cruise vacation:

  • Getting there is have the fun! Cruising allows you to enjoy the ride to the destination! Nonstop deck activities, lounging by the pool, dancing the night away, hitting the SPA or a quiet spot with a book. You choose!
  • Cruises are all-inclusive! (or nearly) The price of your cruise covers your lodging, transportation to the destinations, all your food, non-alcoholic beverages and even your activities and entertainment. Some luxury lines include even more, such as alcoholic beverages.
  • On a Cruise You Unpack Once! If you want to visit more than one place, but you can’t imagine lugging around your bags,  packing and unpacking everywhere you go then a cruise is for you. Your stateroom is your floating hotel. You unpack and then you can leave everything on the ship while you explore the latest port of call and then come back on board for dinner, a show, or to rest and relax. Hit the casino, go to a movie under the stars, take in the sunset with your significant other. It’s all about choice…YOUR choice.
  • A cruise gives you a sample of multiple destinations! A cruise is a great option if you are not sure where you want to go. You can choose a region and then narrow it down to one that stops at a few places you may be curious about and have a small taste of the region as a whole instead of being confined only to one country. Get a variety of cultures and scenery all in the same trip.

A vacation is a great way to relax, get away from your stresses, have fun, bond with family and friends, pamper yourself, learn new things, and explore cultures while seeing the world. Whether you spend it on land, or on the sea…it’s all about getting away. A cruise vacation can be a great way to do it.

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Jolly Mon Vacations Prize Giveaway

Jolly Mon Vacations Prize Giveaway is in full swing. Become a fan of JMV on facebook and win! You can learn about vacations, get a price quote on your next trip, make new friends, or win a prize!

This months free t-shirt giveaway is in full swing. Certain FANS were given t-shirts simply for interacting on the page. Will you be next? You could be! Become a fan, and interact on the site by posting vacation pics, stories, videos, or making posts.

JMV’s for all your travel needs. Contact Pete at 218-779-3050 or pete@jollymonvacations.com today! (or text me!)

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Why Take a Cruise Vacation?

Why should I choose a cruise vacation over a land resort?

A cruise is a lot different from a land based vacation, here’s why:

A cruise ship is a resort by day, and an urban playground by night. It’s also your means of transportation! Why not leave the ‘driving’ to the professionals so you can relax, and concentrate on fun?

Your floating resort makes its way around the neighborhood at 20 knots! You don’t have to leave the resort to get anywhere, the destinations comes to you! New exotic ports of call, loaded with different cultures and steeped in rich history knock on your door each day. Something new and exciting each time you step off the ship.

Land based vacations are nice, but you won’t have the chance to wake up in your hotel room at a different island each day. You won’t have the option of frolicking on a new beach, or learning a different culture each day. Every day brings new things to you on a cruise vacation. Why not?

World class evening entertainment, just steps outside your door. Tickets? You won’t need to stand in line and pay exhuberant prices for tickets! Walk right in, sit down…and enjoy the show. Piano bars, nightclubs, discos, casinos, show lounges, dining venues, sushi bars, giant outdoor movie screens, or just sit under the stars and listen to the sea. The choices are endless.

Got children? The children’s facilities are second to none. There are more than enough activities to keep your children busy all day and night. Children are divided into like age groups, and have the time of their lives. Ice skating at sea? They can do it! Climbing rock walls, video games, learning new things…you’ll have a hard time getting them away for some family time! And while they are having fun together, you are free to relax in the sun, dine with your mate, or head to the spa for a much-needed massage.

Daytime sea day activities can be as active as you want them to be. How about bingo, trivia, demonstrations, pool games, scavenger hunts,  movies, exercise,  enrichment classes, or have a cocktail and listen to live music. perhaps you just want to read a book on your private balcony or watch the waves for a passing whale? Opportunities abound.

Aboard a cruise ship, there is something for everyone. You can see four different countries in a week, and unpack only once. Try a cruise vacation today, you won’t regret it.

While a cruise vacation can have a lot of variables, I suggest contacting a travel agent to ensure you get on the right cruise line for your budget, the right ship and the right itinerary. These are critical to the success of your vacation.

Contact pete@jollymonvacations.com for further questions. I will put you on the right cruise vacation, and I won’t charge any fees. I will help you every step of the way. Now that’s something to smile about!