Monthly Archives: June 2009

Couples Opens Couples Tower Isle

Couples Resorts, one of the premier lodging companies in Jamaica, has announced the reopening of Couples Ocho Rios, now renamed Couples Tower Isle.

Couples Tower Isle

The resort, which was unveiled back in April, and is now officially open, underwent a $30 million renovation, which resulted in enhancements such as:

  • Ocean-view suites with zero edge walk-in showers
  • Renovations to the main lobby, piano bar, and 3 restaurants
  • A new wedding gazebo
  • A new vegetable and juice bar, and a pool grill
  • Upgraded the pool, gym, spa, and game room

Couples, as the name states, is directed to couples and romantic vacations, honeymoons, destination weddings, etc. Each Couples property includes bold design elements and local inspiration to create a laid-back natural setting infused with an authentic Caribbean spirit. For over 30 years, Couples has delighted guests with outstanding service, exceptional dining and unparalleled value-added experiences.

Couples Resorts

Their resorts are on the smaller side of the scale, and are more boutique-style unique resorts than the usual cookie cutter hotels you may have seen.

Couples offers not only some of the best All Inclusive resorts in Jamaica, but is also at the forefront of ecological responsibility. The resorts use eco-friendly paint and encourage guests to conserve energy. Among their achievements are:

  • 100% environment friendly cleaning products
  • Freon-free air conditioning units
  • Use of low energy light bulbs (90%)
  • 85% of the products used to prepare the food is obtained from local growers and farmers

The best thing is they achieve all this without sacrificing on customer experience and on the quality of the product they offer. All the clients I’ve sent to their resorts have come back happy, wanting to go back.

Couples Fall in Love

If you’re thinking about an intimate Caribbean vacation, I encourage you to look at what Couples has to offer. Through the end of the month, they are offering a very special “Fall in Love” promotion, with up to 50% savings and $500 credits. If you’d like to get more details, please contact us.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Free Soda on a Cruise?

Most people know a cruise is far from All Inclusive. Even though your meals and even most of the entertainment is included, there’s now more “opportunities” to spend money aboard: specialty restaurants, specialty coffee, gambling, spinning, ice cream, and of course, drinks.

One item that hits families especially hard sometimes is sodas. This sometimes surprises first time cruises, who expect alcoholic drinks not to be included, but don’t know they’ll have to charge their Cokes to the onboard account. Most cruise lines offer All You Can Drink Soda Cards on the first day of the cruise. For a fee that starts at about $30 for a 7-day cruise, you get a special cup and a sticker on your cruise card that allows you to get unlimited sodas at any of the restaurants or bars aboard the ship.

Now USA Today is reporting that Norwegian Cruise Lines has teamed with Pepsi to offer free sodas aboard NCL cruises booked before October 15th, and sailing through 2010. The promotion applies to sailings 7-days or longer for up to 2 people per cabin.

Norwegian Gem

Norwegian Gem

What’s the catch? This is a promotional rate, not a product, so it has to be booked when you reserve the cruise, not when you board the ship. It’s not combinable with other special rates, so don’t assume you’re getting the best deal. Other rates may be low enough that it’s not worth it to get the free Pepsi. Also, since the promotion is limited to 2 people per cabin, families with children sailing in triple or quad cabins may not get the full advantage of the promotion.

If you’d like to take advantage of Norwegian’s offer, such as this Transatlantic cruise, this 14-day Southern Caribbean cruise, which visits ports you usually don’t get to from Miami, or this extended Mexican Riviera cruise, please let us know. We’ll look for the best option and let you know what your best bet is.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Repositioning Cruises

If you’re looking for very good deals for a cruise, you’ll often be told to look for a repositioning cruise. So, what is a repositioning cruise? As the cruising seasons change, cruise lines need to relocate (or reposition) their ships where demand is stronger and where they can command better prices. Other factors that play into moving ships around like this are weather patterns (like the Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane season) and the need to provide repeat cruisers with new itineraries in different regions or ports.

The two most common types of repositioning cruises are:

  1. Transatlantic cruises: Ships leave the Caribbean for Europe in the Spring and return from the Old World in the Fall. This also coincides with the hurricane season for the Caribbean routes, and this is when cruise lines keep the fewest ships in the area (most likely for financial reasons than climatic ones, though).
  2. Transcanal cruises: Cruise lines often advertise Panama Canal cruises of around 10 days leaving and coming back to Florida. In reality, these sailings enter the canal, reach Gatun Lake, turn around, and come back to Florida. However, as the Alaska sailing season begins in May, and again when it ends in September and October, ships make a full transit of the canal as they move from one coast to the other.

Other repositioning cruises are made when ships come back from South America to the Caribbean, from Alaska or the West Coast to Asia or Australia, etc.

So, how good are the deals for these cruises? Sometimes they’re really good. Back in April, I have clients who traveled on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale to the UK, and paid $700 per person for a 13-day cruise, and sailed on Balcony cabins! Granted, this was an extremely good deal, but not really unheard of. This one for Celebrity Century’s trip back in November comes close.

The main drawback of repositioning cruises is usually the airfare. By definition, you need to purchase one-way tickets, which especially for international flights, tend to be expensive. However, I just came across one offer from Royal Caribbean that solves this problem. They are moving the Enchantment of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale and Colon, Panama. They have also chartered flights to return passengers back to Miami. This allows them to offer much better prices and lock the air fares as well:

RCCL Enchantment Repositioning

As you can see in the flier above, prices for this 8 day sailing start at $749 per person, including the flight back! This is less than $100 per person per night, for a cruise that goes all the way South to Cartagena, and includes the flight back to Miami. It’s really pricing that you don’t see very often. Of course, the also offer cruise only pricing for those who want to stay in Panama longer, or who want to fly back directly.

If you would like to know more about repositioning cruises, or want to look into booking this sailing of the Enchantment, please let me know.
Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Secure Flight’s Perils

Last month I wrote about the implementation of Secure Flight, TSA’s new initiative to improve security and reduce false positives to the watch lists. The first phase of this program requires passengers to fly under their full name, middle name included, as it appears on their travel documents. This phase started May 15th.

I warned that frequent fliers better make sure that their accounts reflect their full name, and not a shortened version under which they may have traveled before. Reservation systems match the name on the frequent flier account with the name on the reservation, and may make it more difficult for travelers to ensure they get their proper mileage credit.

Yesterday I encountered another instance in which Secure Flight may cause problems for travelers. A client of mine was planning a trip and wanted to use credit leftover from a flight canceled last year. No biggie, we do it all the time, right? Well, his reservation was made following Secure Flight guidelines, to John Steven Harris (fictitious name, obviously). His credit, however, was for a ticket made to a “John Harris”. Slight difference, but the airline (American Airlines in this case), would not process it because the names did not match. Now, airlines do not allow changes to the name once a reservation has been made, and to compound the problem, making a new reservation under John Harris would not have worked because the fare we were holding was no longer available.

After a call to the Agent Sales Support desk at American, they granted us a waiver to change the name so we could process the credit. In fact, they did it with me on the phone and issued the ticket using the credit.

The only issue is that the passenger will be flying under John Harris, which does not comply with Secure Flight rules. This will not be a problem in the first few months of the program, but as time passes, it will become more and more difficult to handle these exception. That is one reason why working with a travel agent can help you make sure all the ducks are in a row before you head out to the airport to a nasty surprise, or at the very least, a few additional questions by your friendly TSA inspector.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171