travel agent

River Cruise Passengers Stranded!

“The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” So wrote the Scots poet Robert “Rabbie” Burns. And today it is true of those travellers whose plans included a river cruise on the Elbe and elsewhere in Europe, particularly Germany.
But what do you do when, en-route, the services you have booked and paid for are withdrawn or disrupted?
Well you contact your travel agent of course (what else would we say!) and we work with you to make the best of the situation.

Mosman Cruise Centre has a new look website

Our website has been around for about 6 years so we recently decided it was time to update it. Today the new look went live! and we are very excited about it as it is a great way to tell cruisers and travellers about new deals – as well as to add interesting and useful content. Yes we can add deals to this blog but who wants to read a string of specials? Your travel agent does that for you – we get dozens a day! With our new site we can choose the best and put them up for you to read and explore at your leisure.
So take a look at the site – sign up for our newsletter – and do let me know what you think of it! You can email me at martin@travelchoice.com.au

Swine flu, the honeymooner’s dilemma – and what the cruise ships are doing


Today the Australian government’s Smart traveller website has reissued their travel advice asking Australians planning a trip to Mexico to ‘reconsider’ because of outbreaks of a new virus dubbed Swine flu. For my honeymoon couple who leave next week – and in fact anyone else who has booked and paid for their trip to Mexico this poses a huge dilemma.
If they cancel their holiday/honeymoon they will lose money according to the cancellation conditions of each service they have paid for. The closer to the departure date, the higher the cancellation fees! Many airline tickets are non-refundable after purchase, although in these situations airlines will often be lenient in their application. Those who have booked through travel agents may do better than those who have booked online when it comes to airlines and cancellations or postponements.
If the Department of Foreign Affairs, which runs the Smart traveller website, upgrades its travel warning to ‘do not travel’ then those who wish to cancel or postpone will fare! better.
This is where it can pay to have a travel agent going in to bat for you – and where having the best possible travel insurance can make all the difference between salvaging what you can from your trip, or losing everything.
We can speak to our specialists, the in-bound service providers (travel jargon for those who arrange travel in their own country) to sound out what is happening. Where tickets have been issued and hotel bookings pre-paid your travel agent can ascertain whether insurance coverage is going to safeguard the cost of cancelling.
If DFAT did issue a ‘do not travel’ advice and essential services are suspended then travellers will be prevented from using the services and should have a claim. When travellers make their own decision not to go the cancellations are classed as voluntary and there will be no basis for a claim.
My honeymoon couple have been to see their GP, packed their bags and will be heading off to Mexico – unless the directive changes in the next couple of days. I will be here if they need travel assistance.
Still on swine flu, but checking out the cruises, you may have noticed from the blogs that I follow, that Princess cruises has modified all itineraries on ships going to Mexico, to skip Mexican ports and either visit another port or spend extra time at sea.

‘Mariner’ Lazy days on the seven seas


Oh the perks of the travel agent’s life!
When we were invited to join a group on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner we accepted immediately. Here was my chance to renew acquaintance with a ship inspected several times but never travelled on. And we had a duty (we told ourselves) to follow up the reports of many satisfied clients.

Our passage would be from Fremantle to Adelaide – a segment of the Mariner’s 2008 Grand Pacific Voyage that had begun in Vancouver on September 10, and would end in Los Angeles on December 20, after visiting 49 ports in 14 countries. We would be stopping only once, at Albany.
The journey began at 7:00 pm as Mariner (berthed just a few metres in front of another large cruise ship the Dawn Princess) slid sideways, extracting herself from the wharf like a book taken from a shelf. She then made her way to open sea without help from the nearby tugboat – an elegant demonstration of manoeuverability by pod-propulsion. Those pods also keep noise and vibration to a minimum when the ship is under way.

On-board the ‘Mariner’
Mariner had scheduled an overnight stay in Fremantle and we took advantage of this to arrive a day before departure and thus use the ship as our hotel. We could come and go as we pleased, returning for meals in between excursions. We set off sightseeing in Fremantle walking the historic areas and taking a tour of the old Fremantle Jail, a highly-awarded tourist attraction. Regent had arranged a free shuttle– a service they provide in most ports for guests doing their own shore excursions.

Suite Luxury!
Every passenger suite on Mariner has something to recommend it. Even the entry-level Deluxe Suites have more than enough room for two to sit and dine in, an area of 252 sq. ft. plus a balcony of 49 sq. ft. Room service, with your meals served course by course a la degustation if you wish, is free. Fresh fruit and champagne awaited us in our suite.
Check the photos in our slideshow and you will see a sitting area with sofa, easy chair and coffee table and a writing desk, mini-bar, and tv. Beds are king-size, the walk-in wardrobe is large enough to stow clothes and luggage, and a bathtub with shower is standard. The minibar contents are complimentary and re-stocked daily. Toiletries, bathrobes, slippers, cd/dvd player, safe and overnight shoe-cleaning service are also free. And, enticing guests out of their cabins before dinner, all bar drinks and selected wines with dinner are complimentary. No chits to sign and a minimal end-of-cruise account!
And the service was great. When we ordered tea for two in our cabin it always arrived within a few minutes even during the breakfast rush hour!

Who travels on Regent? World Voyages appeal to the retired, but each cruise is different, and Regent openly welcome children on board. Certain voyages include the Club Mariner Youth Program for ages 5 to 17; voyages to Alaska and Polynesia include Ambassadors of the Environment programs for ages 9 to 17 and programs also operate with world-renowned environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau. Every voyage features lectures that add enjoyment and understanding to guests’ experiences.
Contact me – martin@travelchoice.com.au if you would to know more