Monthly Archives: July 2009

Go Behind the Fun with Carnival

Carnival Cruise Lines has just introduced a “behind the scenes” tour that takes guests to areas that are usually off limits.  The tour, called “Behind the Fun”, is currently available on the Carnival Valor and Carnival Conquest only, and will be extended to all ships with sailings of 7 days or longer by September.

Carnival Valor

Carnival Valor

Ship tours themselves are nothing new. Most cruise lines offer tours of the theatre backstage area and the main galley. Carnival’s tour will also include crew areas, such as their gym, galley, dining room, and training center, as well as the ships’ laundry rooms and galley. The biggest draw, however, are bound to be the engine room and the bridge.

The tour is also unique in that it will let guests interact directly with several officers, including the captain, chief engineer, chef de cuisine, and other department heads. Since groups are limited to 16 guests per tour, they afford a great opportunity to interact with them in a more intimate setting. Guests also receive souvenirs from the tour, including a picture with the captain on the bridge.

The three and a half hour tour costs $95 per person and can be booked through the ship’s excursion desk.

There are currently great prices for cruises into the Fall and Winter, so there’s no better time to go on a cruise and experience this tour. Prices are as low as $489 per person + taxes. Feel free to contact us for details and to book your next vacation.

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

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United Woes

The last couple of weeks have been loaded with news from United Airlines. And not of the good variety. After all, you’re talking about the airline with one of the oldest complaint websites around, untied.com.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, some travel agencies received a letter from United stating that they would no longer be able to process credit card payments on behalf of the airline. So, if you bought a United ticket from them, the agency would have to process payment through their own merchant account, and then send payment by check or some other form to the airline. More on this later…

In late June, United announced they were issuing bonds for $175 million. The bonds were issued at a discount for lack of buyer interest, even paying over 12% per year. The fact that they were secured through a lien on maintenance parts didn’t help either. Do you really want to buy a bond who can’t offer better security than spare parts?

If its financial picture is not bright, they’re not doing much better (at least on the PR front) operationally. On July 2nd, their Chicago hub was practically paralyzed due to a failure of their check-in systems.

Then, in what has become one of the latest videos forwarded around the world courtesy of YouTube, Dave Carroll, of the band Sons of Maxwell, sings about how United Breaks Guitars. If you haven’t heard the song, you should, it’s pretty good! The story behind it is about the saga of trying to get United to pay for the damages to Mr. Carroll’s $3500 guitar. You can read the story here.

Now, back to the credit card issue. To summarize, a small number of travel agencies (with very low sales volume of United tickets, by the airline’s account), received a noticed that they won’t be allowed to process credit card payments through the airline. Normally, when you buy a ticket (or cruise, or tour, etc.) thrugh a travel agency, the credit card payment is processed by the airline, cruise line, etc. That’s why your statement would say “United Airlines” and not “KC Travel”. United is trying to change that around. So now, your travel agent, if affected by United’s letter, would have to charge your card plus a 3-5% fee charged by the credit card company (which the airlines most probably get a discount on), and then send the payment to United. Since the airlines are no longer paying commission on tickets, it’s not like your agency could absorb the merchant fee, so you’d be paying more.

Even more freightening, by not processing the card payment themselves, United may be released from its liability as a service and product supplier. If you have an issue with them, your credit card company would not be able to help, because the transaction was with the travel agency, not the airline. If you dispute a charge, the travel agency gets hit with it, not the airline. You’re due a refund from them? The refund would have to be paid in cash or check to the agency and then to you, not just credited to your card.

The implications of this change are so severe, that several Congresspeople have asked United to at least delay the policy’s implementation to investigate its repercussions. United just agreed to do this.

Why all the fuzz if this just affects a small number of no-name agencies? Well, airlines have a habit of testing the waters like this to measure the response or opposition to something, and then go full scale. They also have the ahbit of copying one another’s “cost saving measures” and fees, so even if you don’t see this affecting you because you don’t fly United, keep an eye open for what happens next.

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

Don’t Trash your Hotel Room

I saw this report in the Sun Sentinel this morning and found it interesting. Apparently, there have been incidents across the country where hotel guests have been called by people pretending to be hotel employees, instructing them to intentionally damage their rooms.

What happened to the Kantorski’s at their hotel in Orlando is just an example, apparently. The Kantorski’s got a call, ostensibly from someone at the hotel, telling them there was a gas leak in the hotel, and to break the window with wathever they could find, which according to the paper, was a toilet bowl. He was then told to break the wall to the room next door, throw the mattress out the window, and jump to “safety”. By the time the hotel manager showed up to address a noise complaint in the room, the Kantorski’s had made $5000 worth of damage.

Other similar cases have involved the “testing” of fire alarm systems by breaking windows and the activation of sprinkler systems for fires that didn’t exist.

According to the article, hotel corporate offices are notifying their properties to be alert to these costly pranks. If you’re going to stay at a hotel soon, I’d advice to be alert as well. If you receive one of these calls, or if you suspect there’s something wrong at the hotel, call the front desk to verify . Also remember that in most likelihood, the best escape route on a fire would be using the hotel’s staircases and emergency exits, not the window.

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