Monday, October 29, 2007

Do I need insurance?

Yes, You Do Need Travel Insurance "Does your health insurance cover you in Liberia?" I was asked by a doctor aboard Celebrity Cruises' Galaxy. "Well, you're in Liberia right now," he pointed out. Like the vast majority of cruise ships, Galaxy is a foreign flag ship. But most Americans don't realize their regular health insurance may not cover them outside the U.S.When your sights are set on an exciting cruise and sun-filled beaches, it's a drag to consider options to protect oneself against unforeseen events that may mar your expensive vacation-not to mention the additional cost.BUT IT'S TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK.In addition to illness or accidents, here are other scenarios you may face:
You've paid for your cruise six months out and a crisis hits: you're downsized out of a job, there's a death in the family or some other catastrophe hits so can't take that cruise. While the deadline for a "free" cancellation has passed, you may think that the cruise line will surely have a heart and waive the penalty. Wrong!
Cruise lines do not waive penalties for cancelling passengers without insurance. You must expect they will strictly enforce their cancellation policies no matter how dire the circumstances. And your travel agent can do nothing.
A big snowstorm hits the day you're scheduled to join a cruise, and your flight is cancelled. Finally you make it for part of the cruise, but you've missed several days you paid for. Is the cruise line or airline responsible? Neither--read the small print on your tickets. Only the right cruise insurance will make up for this loss. It's important to know that if a health issue arises on the cruise, you're unlikely to find medical conditions comparable to those in the U.S.: Cruise ships aren't required to conform to American medical standards. Conditions at foreign hospitals are sometimes relatively primitive by American standards. A doctor aboard Radisson Diamond recounted the story of a passenger whose life was saved because he had insurance. After he suffered a stroke, he was airlifted to a hospital in Houston with advanced technology. Otherwise, the ship would have had to put him in the nearest hospital: Bogota, Columbia, which lacks much life-saving medical care.Cruise agent Gloria Price of the Travel Company says, "people shut down when they hear the word "insurance"--but you may get ripped off if you don't get it. Travel insurance is expensive, but invaluable if you have a problem. Then, it really gets expensive," she says.Without insurance, you're putting money on the table for the weather and the airlines' labor problems. All cruise lines impose penalties for cancellation, and it's your responsibility to know what they are."But it's your responsibility to ask. Travel agents are sometimes trained to avoid talking about cancellation, period. That's a big disservice. If you have to cancel, travel insurance will protect you," Price says."If you have a medical condition, are under treatment or pregnant, you owe it to yourself to tell the travel agent," Gloria Price says. "Pre-existing medical conditions aren't covered by cruise line travel insurance, but your agent can recommend a policy that does cover them, such as Travel Guard or Travel Access insurance."Cruise lines and airlines claim no responsibility for anything outside their control. If you miss your plane because of a storm, there's no reimbursement for missed days aboard ship. Insurance would give you some recourse.In the event of a weather or carrier-caused delay, no airline is obligated to connect you with the ship--only to get you to your ticketed destination. And the cruise line isn't obligated to pay any extra costs involved in connecting you with the ship.In addition, there's the added security of knowing that travel insurance can offer partial or full compensation if you can't travel. "Buy a comprehensive trip cancellation-interruption policy," which offers reimbursement for cancellation penalty prior to leaving home, plus out of pocket compensation, Gloria Price cautions. Otherwise, "Whenever there is a problem, the traveler always loses. They loose either time, or money, but most often both."INSURANCE OPTIONS AND COSTS:The price of travel insurance is based on the price of your vacation. For example, insurance coverage for a $1,500 to $2,000 vacation is approximately $175.You generally have two options when it comes to travel insurance: the cruise line's own insurance or third-party programs. The downside to buying the cruise lines' travel insurance is that they normally don't pay for medical costs incurred because of pre-existing medical conditions. And, should the cruise line go bankrupt-unlikely, but you never know--you're also not covered.Consumer Reports' highest-rated travel insurance companies in terms of items covered are Travel Guard and Access America. Both can be purchased directly or through your travel agent. To explore the items they cover and tally up the cost, go to their web sites: Access America and Travel Guard.Buying insurance doesn't guarantee your trip will be worry free, but it does alleviate enormous problems that may arise when Murphy (as in Murphy's Law) is also booked to sail on your voyage. For me, it's a small price to pay for piece of mind.NOW, PASS THE PINA COLADA!

Thanks to Anne Campbell for her contribution of this article

5 cruises in 9 weeks!

Ok, its been a very busy time for me....
On Sept 8, I cruised the one night sailing of the NCL Spirit out of NY. We had a lot of fun. Saw lots of bachelorette and bachelor parties going on, also birthday and anniversary celebrations. A perfect way to spend the night. Lots of gambling, a show and of course food and drink! ;-)
My next cruise left on Sept 23, on board the RCCL Explorer of the Seas from Bayonne! I was invited by my sales rep. Tom Cherry to attend a Seminar at sea. It was a 5 night Bermuda cruise and it was on board my very first ship which I loved, so it was a no brainer! I had booked alot of clients on board this particular cruise and always felt that it was too short giving you only two full days in port. However, after sailing it myself, I will NOT hesitate to book anyone. We had a great time! Tom did two wonderful presentations, he was great! I learned alot. This was the 2nd seminar I had attended with him, the first being the Adventure of the Seas last March, and still today is my "favorite" overall cruise! He also invited me last summer to attend a SAS in Europe, unfortunately I had to miss that one.... aahh, someday.....
Then on Oct 12th I left for our 12th annual Cruises Inc/CruiseOne company conference. This time we stayed at the Mariott on Biscayne Blvd in Miami for two nights. We had a trade show and a few workshops. The festivities ended with our award banquet. I did receive and award, however last year it was at a higher level, but I am happy and proud non the less. Then off to the pier on Sunday the 14th to cruise 5 days on the brand new NCL Pearl. Stops included Cozumel where we all went to Playa Mia for some fun and yes food and drink! The next stop was Grand Cayman, RCCL treated us to a day at Hard Rock , yes.....DRINK and food!
On board during sea days we had the opportunity to attend many workshops and meet some of the big wigs from several cruise lines! I find it amazing how the biggest in the biz take the time to come to our conferences each year! It makes me proud to be working for Cruises Inc! Every night Artie and I attended the Cocktail party where on several occasions a "free cruise" was given out and lots of very nice gifts, of course no free one for me :-(
The NCL Pearl is very nice, I truly enjoyed the ship layout and decor. The ship is the first at sea with a BOWLING ALLEY! So cool! Anyway every year we choose a theme for conference, and this year was perfect! "A LEAGUE OF OUR OWN"! Cruises Inc/Cruise One is really in a league of our own when it comes to the cruise lines, they thanked us over and over for all the sales and mostly for the way we treat our clients. Again, glad that I am here.
Ok, after flying back to EWR, I unpacked and packed again for my 2 nighter on the NCL Dawn NY sailing. The ship departed 10/26, my son Tyler's 17th birthday and my husband and I took him along with my Mom and her husband, and our best friends Harold and Aida. I had never been on the Dawn, but had booked many clients on board her. I couldn't wait to see the ship. I was not disappointed at all. I again really liked the ship and the flow. However the crew seemed to be understaffed and the food was not the best. I will make it my business to call my contact at NCL and let her know that there is a slight lack in services on board the Dawn this past weekend. Again the cruise was very popular with the same type of clientele as the one nighter. I did see a few more kids(teens) then I did on the one nighter. The New York NJ cruises are so convenient for me, I can be on board the ship in less than 2 hours from my house!
Finally, this Sat, Nov 3rd I fly off to Miami again to cruise RCCL Liberty of the Seas! Ive had this group booked for over a year! I have some past clients and their friends and family, I have some of my son Evan's baseball team players and family and then some of my family and friends! Its going to be great! The Liberty is the second build of the worlds largest cruise ship the Freedom Class, and also my FAVORITE class of ship, the third and final ship; the Independence will sail out of FT Lauderdale alternating a 6 and 8 night cruise. While on the Liberty we will visit 4 ports: Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Montego bay and Labadee(RCCL private island paradise). Even though we have visited these and some of the other ports several times I can still find something new and wonderful to do in all of them. Sometimes I choose to just stay on board while all the other guests get off. Its great to have the ship to yourself, no problem getting the best lounge chair by the pool! We return on 11/10. After that, The next cruise I have booked is a three nighter on Holland America's newest ship, the Eurodam. She is doing a one time only, 3 nighter RT NYC on labor day weekend! I then have one other cruise booked 9/20/08. Which is another one nighter, this time its my brother and sister in laws wedding anniversary cruise.
Phew.... My 25th wedding anniversary is coming up this February 26th, I could have booked Hawaii or perhaps my dream cruise.....Italy, but I think we may try a land trip this time. Artie has always wanted to do an all inclusive hotel package so I guess I will consider someplace grand!
I'm sure before 08 is over, I will have a few more added to this list, however, for now....I think I may be a bit "cruised out"!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Group Cruise Travel Services
Offered by
Cheri Diekhaus
Phone: (732)409-3417 or Toll Free (800) 215-6964
Fax: (732)409-3418
Welcome to the fun, quality, and value of group cruising. While we realize that each group will have it’s own special needs, the following are our general guidelines for group cruises. We have made it our goal to offer the absolute best group cruise services you will find anywhere. The Gang’s All Here! Why should your group choose to cruise? Simply because cruising offers the best value and the most fun and excitement for your club, organization, family/class reunion, or special interest group. With one set price, all details are taken care of - transportation, accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities. And best of all, cruising offers a wide variety of options that appeal to all age groups, backgrounds, and activity levels. Everyone can "do their own thing" whether its mountain biking down a summit, snorkeling along the coral in the amazingly clear water, shopping, or just relaxing by the pool with the latest bestseller. From casinos and discos for the adults to the play areas and program for kids, Cruising offers something for everyone in your group like no other vacation option can. Plus, the group benefits from the lowest group rates and FREE cruises!What’s Expected of You As you will soon see, we are going to go all out to make sure your group cruise is a complete success. However, as you might expect, before we put a lot of time and effort into our partnership, we will need to know that certain conditions are met.
Make sure you have at least 8 couples ready to go! (a few cruise lines require only 5 couples) It is very important that you have a pre-formed group that’s ready to cruise. We will need some assurances that you have an expressed interest from the group that they want to cruise or a history of group travel.Make sure you know the type of cruise your group wants. This includes budget and opulence parameters, sailing dates, length of cruise and destinations. Poll some of your key group members in advance. You will be responsible for any expenses incurred if it becomes necessary to change ships, sailing dates, or itineraries once we block space and begin promoting the cruise. See also "Consultation" below.Promote, promote, promote! Just because we’ll be doing a lot of the work for you, doesn’t mean that you can sit back and take it easy. Make it a point to personally contact the group members, follow up and keep the enthusiasm going. You may want to look for other groups or individuals to join your group. We’ll give you all the support and materials you need, so get out there and keep the group excited about their trip!At the time we block space for your group, we will need the deposit for at least one cabin. We’ll look at deposits in more detail below. Just keep in mind that this is a partnership where everyone wins! If you’re serious about your group’s cruise, then so are we. And we are willing to give it our all. Ready? Let’s get started!Consultation I will gladly make an appointment to meet with you or your group planning committee to determine the best cruise for your group. (if possible) It has been our experience that presenting of more than one cruise line for an entire group (to let the group vote on which cruise they want) too often results in confusion and a divided group. Those who are outvoted are not as enthusiastic about the trip. It is much more effective to present one cruise sailing to the group. This way, everyone is "on the same page" and excited about the cruise.Promotion You can count on me to be there to give you the support and materials you need for fun and successful cruise promotions.If your group is local, schedule a meeting or plan a cruise night and I’ll be there to conduct a presentation with a cruise video and signup forms that make booking your cruisers a breeze. We’ll have a Q&A session so that everyone is fully informed.If your group is not local, I’ll work with you and put together an impressive presentation by mail. If your group qualifies, we will foot the bill for all printing expenses. Give me a copy of your group’s names and addresses on computer disk, and I’ll take care of mailing them for you. I’ll even pay the postage!FREE CRUISES!! Here’s the part where you or your group really benefit! In most cases, I will give your group one free cruise (called a "Tour Conductor" or "TC") for every eight cabins booked. Sixteen booked cabins earns one free cabin (2 TC’s) and so on. All the TC pays is port charge, taxes and transportation to the ship. The TC spot is usually given in the same category as the majority of booked cabins. The TC policy may vary by cruise line.The group may use the earned TC’s several different ways:
Free cruise for the group leader and/or whomever group leader chooses.A Fundraiser for the group. We will refund the value of all TC’s within 30 days after the cruise. Or, use the free spots as a raffle or door prize.Group Amenities - Trade the TC’s for private onboard cocktail parties, group photos, champagne, T-shirts or any number of other extras that benefit the entire group. Agency Escort - If your group qualifies, you can trade one TC for an agency escort. See "Agency Escort" below for details of the benefits of an agency escort.Due to the possibility of cancellations that may affect the number of TC’s earned, we can not offer a per cabin discount to the group in exchange for the TC’s.Cruise Rates and Early Booking Be advised that the earlier you book your group, the lower you can expect the rates to be and the better the selection of available cabins. Early booking also allows more time for your group members to save up for their cruise payments and allows our promotional efforts to spread by word of mouth to more potential cruisers.Deposits and Group Space Deposits and group space requirements vary from cruise line to cruise line. Most lines will allow us to block and hold group space undeposited for 30 days. At any point after this time, the cruise line can take away any undeposited cabins that we have in our group block. If it becomes necessary to add cabins to a group, we will have to add them at the current group rate (which is most often at a higher rate than the cabins booked earlier). Most cruise lines require an initial deposit of $250 per person to hold a cabin. Deposits vary with length of cruise. The remainder is due about 75 days prior to sailing.Payments and Tickets We will handle all the paperwork and invoicing for your group unless you would prefer to collect the payments and booking information yourself. We will mail payment confirmations to your group members every time we receive a payment. Please note that we can send only one confirmation per cabin, so anyone sharing a cabin will need to decide who the contact person will be. Your group members will have the option of purchasing trip protection insurance that will protect them from cancellation fees as well as offering other benefits. This information will be sent along with their deposit confirmation.When tickets arrive, we will give them to you or they will be mailed.Agency Escort As mentioned above, you may opt to exchange one TC for an agency escort. I am your agency escort and would accompany the group to take care of any and all details and add special touches so that you can concentrate on enjoying your vacation with the rest of the group. Such details would include items such as confirm that private parties are properly set up, personally notify or remind guests about upcoming events, schedule group photos with the ships photographer, be "on call" to handle any problems a guest might encounter and offer advice to first-time cruisers.Additional Services and Benefits In addition to assisting you with your group, we will also extend our superior service to your group members. All the promotional materials will have our telephone numbers (local & toll free) on them so your members can call me anytime day or night with any questions. Depending on the size of your group and the length of the cruise, we may also include a bon voyage gift. As we said, our goal is offer the best group policy around, so feel free to make suggestions on how we make our services even better!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Directory For First Time Cruisers

Every day, more and more people are discovering the all-inclusive pleasures of a cruise vacation. More singles, families, couples, honeymooners, and groups of friends are sailing away on the vacation of their lives. Last year alone over five million people enjoyed a cruise vacation. When you add it all up, it's easy to see why.
The price of your cruise ticket includes all of your meals and in-between snacks on-board; your stateroom, activities, parties and entertainment; plus, an exciting voyage to some of the most provocative and culturally-enriching places in the world.
But before you set sail on the Vacation of a Lifetime, it's important to choose the right cruise at the right price. For First Time Cruisers, this can be quite a task. That's why we developed the "Directory to First Time Cruising". You can find almost everything you need to help you plan your cruise vacation.
If you need more help or can't find what you're looking for here, please contact us at the number above. We'll be happy to help you.

Directory for First Time Cruisers
Helpful Guides for First Time Cruisers
First Timer's Guide to Cruising
21 Ways to Find the Best Rate on Your Cruise
Cruise Destination Guide
Guide to Honeymoon Cruising
Guide to Family Cruising
Guide to Luxury Cruising
Senior Citizen's Guide to Cruising
Singles Cruise Guide
Find Your Cruise Your Way
Cruise Search by Destination
Cruise Search by Departure Date
Cruise Search by Cruise Line
Cruise Search by Cruise Ship
Cruise Search by Cruise Length
Cruise Search by Departure Port
First Timer's Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about Cruising in General
Questions about Booking and Finding a Cruise
Questions about Air/Sea Cruise Packages and Getting to the Pier
Questions about your Cabin or Accommodations
Questions about Dining Onboard a Cruise Ship
Questions about Shipboard Amenities and Activities
Questions about Shore Excursions and Land Tours
How to find the right Cruise Line for You
Directory of All Cruise Lines
Contemporary and Mass Market Cruise Lines
Luxury Cruise Lines for the Discriminating Traveler
High Adventure and Specialty Cruise Lines
Helpful Tools and Resources for the First Time Cruiser
360-Degree Virtual Tours of over 60 Cruise Ships
Comprehensive Cruise Reviews from Actual Passengers
Cruise Ship Dinner Menus and Dining & Tipping Policies
Cruise Ship Wine Lists
Travel Insurance: Is it worth it? What does it cover?
Directory of Activities On and Off a Cruise Ship
Activities Onboard a Cruise Ship
Activities Ashore
Guide to Cruise Ship Spas
Shore Excursions while in Port


Cruises are perfect for multi-generational family vacations! Kids seem to love cruises, and many cruise lines have recognized the previously untapped market for families with children. Since cruises offer something for all ages, families can have fun together or have fun with others of their peer group, all in one vacation spot. In addition, since almost all of the major costs of a cruise are included in the base price, it makes budgeting for a family easier. Your teenagers (or teen wanna-bes) can scan the menu looking for "the most expensive items" and be disappointed. There are no prices! They can eat what they want (and as much as they want) without a corresponding shrinkage of your wallet. Cruises are like a big "all-inclusive resort", except they move across the water, providing new vistas each day for the entire family.
Finding a cruise for adults is difficult enough, but finding a good match in a cruise for adults and children or teens involves some research and hard work. Most cruise lines allow children on board, but not all design activities specifically for kids.
Following are some basic questions you should ask your travel agent and/or find out from the cruise line when selecting a cruise for a family with children. In "More of this Feature", you'll find overviews of the kids' and teens' programs on some of the cruise lines. Be sure to check with your travel agent before booking to get the specifics on each cruise ship. Some ships have different age categories, and others don't offer their kids programs year-round.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Welcome to my cruise travel blog!

Hello, my name is Cheri and I am a travel agent who specializes in Cruises! I have been an agent with Cruises Inc for just over 4 years now. Cruises Inc is the worlds largest cruise only agency that is owned by WTH. With over 450 independent and 400 franchise owners we are offer our clients not only the best rates available but unpresidented customer service! I truley take my personal service very seriously. Whether you are booking a 3 night Bahamas cruise or a world cruise, whether you are a first timer or have cruised hundreds of times; I give my clients first class service each and everytime!
I was born and raised in New Jersey(exit 18,PKWY) in a town just miles past the GWB, called Cliffside Park. On February 26, 1983 I married Artie, just after that we moved to Key West Florida to run my Dad's hotel business. Then after 7 years and 3 sons later, we decided it was time to move back to NJ to be closer to our family and friends. Our fourth son was born and we raised our children in the same town I grew up in until 2004. My oldest son, Patrick graduated and attended his freshman year at East Stroudsburg University. This is when we decided to make a major move and found ourselves a wonderful community about an hour away in Freehold Township. The people are very nice and the schools are fantastic. Of course my #2 son, Ryan was not happy about our timing. Being a Jr in HS and having to move was not the greatest thing for him. However, #3, Tyler was to be a freshman and #4, Evan was to start middle school, 7th grade. I felt bad, but it was time to move, CP was not what it used to be and I could see a lot of changes happening that I wasnt particularly crazy about. Anyway, back in 2001, Artie and I took in to live with us my grandfather; Stephen. He lived with us until the day he died; this past January 22. We all learned a lot about him and ourselves, it was often difficult and trying at times, but I wouldnt change a minute of it. I miss him. That is how I partially come to tell you how I came into the cruise biz.
Artie and I took the boys on our first cruise in February of 2001. It was RCCL Explorer of the Seas! Of my! What a beauty she is! We sailed the Eastern Caribbean out of Miami and had a glorious time! I had always wanted to take a cruise, and for the same reasons I still hear today, I thought it was too expensive, too boring, too many people, not enough time on land... I learned very quickly on that cruise, that it was none of that! Shortly after returning home I started thinking about the next one!!!
Well, long story short, I did two more cruises, and found this company Cruises Inc and made a call. The rest is history. I flew to Florida several months later and attended my training and certifications. This was the perfect fit for me, with Grandpa needing constant attention, raising four sons and keeping my husband happy, this was perfect as I was able to do this and book dream cruises all from the comfort of my own home! It was a match made in heaven!
The first year was truley a learning experience and juggling all the things that needed juggling it wasnt as easy as it seemed it would be. There was so much to know about cruises, still today almost 5 years later I still spend most of my day reading and keeping up with the constant itinerary changes, new ship deployments, becoming an expert and keeping up with the certifications of each cruise line, also the constant changes to the cruise industry as a whole. It is not as easy as I thought it would be, however, it certainly fulfills my desire to stay involved with all that is "cruising"!
I start this blog by giving you a little background about myself and tell you that my plan is to give you important cruise info and updates. I hope to add pictures and links to websites that will help you stay on top of this ever changing world of cruising. The best tid bit I can share as a final closing is to tell you that 83% of the world has still not taken a cruise; I intend to grab a small portion of that business, and keep them coming back to me year after year!!!