Cruises out of New York are the best summer escape possible!
Why Choose to Cruise?
We asked our readers take a poll to identify why they choose to cruise for their vacation. The results surprised us. The over-riding perception of a cruise vacation for 85% of the traveling American public who has never actually tried a cruise is that it involves a ship deck with swimming pool, laying in the sun, holding an umbrella-laden cocktail, and visiting hot and sunny ports. Lots of food and non-threatening activities like production shows with scantily-clad showgirls and casinos with nickel slot machines also fill the bill.
But our readers chose the following as the main reason they cruise for their vacation; "I cruise to see the world, I think it is the most convenient form of travel there is." I couldn't agree more. Ships are by far the best way to see the world, especially if you choose a cruise line that spends up to three days in places like St. Peterburg Russia. Whether it is Europe, South America, or Asia, what could be better than unpacking once and taking your hotel and pre-planned meals with you? If you have ever traveled overseas any other way, you know exactly what I mean!
Most of the premium and luxury lines are already "traveler" and "enrichment" focused. Offering exotic destinations and outrageously interesting shore experiences (fly a MiG? Fire a Kalishnikov with a Russian General, African Safaris to Mount Kilimanjaro...). Yet, even the "mass market" lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean are going to Europe, Asia and South America these days, with port intensive itineraries and great value on the prices.
The second most selected reason was, "I don't care where I cruise, I just love the ships for food, service & entertainment." So, you have the best of both worlds. For the traveler in the family you can see the world in the most convenient conveyance possible. And if your spouse wants pampering her entire vacation you can actually have both at the same time.
New York summer cruise season is here!
I love New York. It's a city where the majority of people don't even own a car, because they don't need one. But there are two times of year when you need to escape the city, in the dead of winter when it is too cold, and in the height of summer when the countryside comes back to life.
One N.Y. cruise option which is extremely popular but rarely mentioned is the four or five-day getaway cruise from New York City to New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. These destination ports are charming college towns with thriving street scenes amidst dramatic rocky coastlines. But the ports are not the only reason for taking these cruises. You also take them for the ships, which offer fun, great food, and fantastic value, starting at just $329 pp!
And there are several more cruises sailing out of New York this summer, the city is once again the ship passenger hub it was back in the heyday of ocean liners. Besides Manhattan, you can now leave from Bayonne New Jersey or Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Thank Your Travel Agent
Let's be honest, these are tough times and some people are feeling it more than others, but all of us are feeling a fair amount of pocketbook pinch.
And so I want to take a minute and say thanks to someone vital to the cruise industry, whom most of us already trust and depend upon, but maybe we don't thank them often enough - travel agents. Especially for us cruisers, they are a vital link between our planning and expectations and the vacations we ultimately receive. A good cruise agent can get you upgrades when you least expect it, tell you when they find a great deal and take care of problems before they crop up.
The best thing about a travel agent is that they work for our benefit, but they get paid by the cruise lines. That's right (just in case you didn't know), all of a travel agent's commission comes from the cruise line, not a single penny from you, the customer.
The last two years have heaped more and more challenges on travel agents. For example, when an agent sells a cruise, the only portion they get paid upon is the cruise fare itself. But at the same time they are responsible for getting a number of fees from the customer which go directly to the cruise line, or government, which they don't even make any commission on. Guess what they are called? NCFs, or "non-commissionable fees."
The amount of money a travel agent has to collect which she doesn't get paid for is growing all the time. An past example was the old fuel surcharge which could be reinstated if oil prices continue to rise. This money went straight to the cruise line, and not one cent to the agent's commission. Other "NCF" charges include port fees and taxes.
As all of these extra charges get tacked on or go up in cost, there is more to explain to the customer to make one sale, and the price of a cruise is now higher than before which makes it a harder sell. The airlines stopped paying travel agents commissions years ago.
Making things even worse, as cruise fares need to be incredibly cheap to be competitive these days, the only part of a cruise fare they can cut is the portion the agent makes a commission upon, the taxes and fees are fixed costs. Agents have to sell far more cruises, almost double the number in some cases, just to get the same commission they were making two years ago.
So, let's hear it for the travel agents with their knowledge, attention to detail and dedication to doing the job right. they really earn their money. If you have a good travel agent you know it. If you don't, then it is time to shop around for a new one. Only the best are likely to survive the current economic conditions.
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