Totem Travel (425) 821-4100   (800) 321-7907

Cruise Free on Royal Caribbean this fall!!


Oasis resize Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has terrific promo for the fall of 2014. The savings is unbelievable! Book 4 people in a cabin, and the 3rd and 4th go free! Free is good…very good!! If there’s just the 2 of you, no worries. RCCL has a great special for you, too. The second person in the cabin goes for ½ price….Sailing dates available through this promo run from October 15, 2015-through May, 31, 2016. As an example:

  • 3rd & 4th Free Promo: Freedom of the Seas, November 9th , Balcony cabin for 4 people: $3470 including all port charges and taxes! That’s for 4 people, not per person! Without the promo, this fare would be $4465! That’s a thousand bucks, folks!!
  • 2nd Guest ½ price: Freedom of the Seas, November 9th , Balcony cabin for 2 people: $2485 including all port charges and taxes. That’s for 2 people, not per person! Without the promo: Balcony cabin for 2 people: $3285

This particular sailing is a Western Caribbean itinerary, with ports of call in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Similar savings are available on all Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ships, except Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. There are several different itineraries, including Europe and Hawaii! The savings is available in most cruise cabin categories, too! This is the perfect time to get those BFFs together, or even a bachelor or bachelorette party! A family reunion or even a class reunion! How about a wedding at sea? Royal Caribbean has many beautiful wedding options, and how romantic…getting married at sea! And bring the whole wedding party with you on the honeymoon! A cruise to New England and Canada for the fall colors? So many choices… If you have been waiting until rates went down….now’s the time….bookings must be made by September 15th. Don’t miss out! Please contact sandi@totemtravel.com to get the ball rolling…or should I say get the ship sailing? 425-821-4100

Is a cruise or all inclusive resort a better vacation value?


I love cruising and I love all inclusive resorts so I’ve been asked many times which is the better value. Well there is no one answer but let’s take an example and compare an oceanview room at an adult only all inclusive resort with an oceanview cabin on a 7 day Caribbean Cruise.

All major cruise lines include meals and entertainment in the basic cruise fare but except for a few luxury lines there are lots of extras you must add to your vacation budget. Coffee, tea and fruit juice are usually complimentary but you’ll pay for most other beverages whether you order a soft drink, bottled water, beer, wine or cocktail and a 15-20% tip will be added to your drink cost.

Specialty restaurants requiring a reservation charge a fee. Coffee drinks and gourmet ice cream are not included. Exercise equipment is free but classes often carry a charge. Transportation from the airport to the cruise ship and back are extra. Gratuities for your cabin steward, dining staff and other services will be added to your bill at the end of the cruise and shore excursions such as a snorkeling trip will be extra.

By contrast, at an adult only all inclusive resort like Sandals all of your meals, beverages, gratuities, airport transfers, entertainment, land and watersports are free. Snorkeling, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, water trikes, Hobie Cats, windsurfing, waterskiing and SCUBA , is all included and you can enjoy fitness classes and equipment at no charge.

Specialty restaurants such as Italian, Japanese Teppanyaki and French are all included at no extra charge and you’ll find ice cream shops, swim up pool bar, English pub and nightclub all complimentary. Golf is included at many of the Sandals Resorts and even destination weddings are free!

To give a price comparison, I have compared apples to apples: balcony rooms, oceanview, 7 nights, 2 people:

Cruise:

• Oceanview stateroom with balcony: $2725 for 2 people

• Gratuities @ $80 per person = $160

• Alcoholic beverages, 2 drinks per person per day @ $7.50 each = $105

• Diet Coke, or other soft drink, 2 per day per person @2.50 each = $35

• 2 bottles of water per day per person@ $3.00 each = $42 for the week

• Snorkeling excursion for @ $60 per person = $120

• SCUBA, 2 tank dive @ $105 per person = $210

• Kayaking excursion @ $59 per person = $118

• Airport/port transfers $35 per person each way: $140

TOTAL: $3655.00

 

Sandals Resorts:

• Oceanview room with balcony: $2400 for 2 people

• Gratuities: $0.00

• Alcoholic Beverages: $0.00 unlimited

• Soft drinks: $0.00 unlimited

• Bottle Water: $0.00 unlimited

• Snorkeling: $0.00

• SCUBA: $0.00

• Kayaking: $0.00

• Airport/resort transfers: $0.00

TOTAL: $2400.00

So if you’d like to visit several tropical islands in a single week cruising may be your best choice,  but dollar for dollar your money may go further on an adult only or family friendly all inclusive vacation. Whichever vacation experience is right for you I am happy to help so please call or email sandi@totemtravel.com or contact one of the Certified Sandals Specialists at Totem Travel.

See Europe up close, experience European River Cruising


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Click for slide show of European River Cruising

Touring Europe has been on my wish list for a long time.  The one thing that has held me back is that I want to see the small towns, and experience the local culture. Doing that on an escorted tour through Europe is one way, renting a car and driving through the countryside is another, but neither sounded like the best option for me. Enter: European River Cruising!  This is definitely my cup of tea. I love cruising and the thought of seeing Europe close-up, and having to unpack only once, sounds like a dream come true!

Imagine floating along the calm rivers, docking right in the center of an ancient village, and stepping right of the ship ready to shop in the markets, attend music performances, and enjoy the local cuisine. No long lines to disembark, no tenders into the port, and no bus rides to the village….it’s right there!! And the shore excursions are included. Local guides will lead you on wonderful tours, with a running commentary of genuine behind the scenes experiences. In additional you will have the benefit of personal headsets for the sightseeing excursions, so that you can wander through the attractions without missing any of the narration.

Food is always a big part of the cruising experience! Dining on a river cruise is part of the journey. Chefs incorporate local culinary specialties paired with regional wines, into each dinner. Concerned about where to dine, and what to order, when you are touring the towns along the way? The cruise lines have thought of that too! Throughout the cruise, a local chef will come on board to prepare a special meal, so you will learn about the different dishes, and how to order them. Don’t worry….if you are a fussy eater, and prefer foods that are more familiar to you, there’s always a meat, fowl, fish, and vegetarian choice, too.

Have you ever been on an ocean cruise and picked up a local wine to enjoy on board? Only to find out that there is a corkage fee (about $15-$20), or security takes the wine from you, to be returned at the end of the cruise. This won’t happen on a river cruise! They welcome your regional wine purchase, and do not charge for corkage! So enjoy!

The ships are small, but include an amazing number of amenities: staterooms with balconies, heated floors in the bathroom, libraries for reading & playing board games, lounges with local entertainment, and lovely outdoor decks for watching the world go by! Some of the ships even have a beauty salons, swimming pools and fitness centers!

Sample cruises include tours of Holland and the spectacular tulips; wine tours in France; Eastern European cruises throughout Hungary and Romania; enjoy the sights and sounds which have inspired musicians and poets……the Danube.  Themed cruises are also very popular: Wine Appreciation cruises, Jewish Heritage cruise, and a Jazz cruise to list just a few of the choices. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are to be celebrated, and the river cruise lines have some wonderful options.

If this sounds like perfect way to enjoy Europe, please contact me or even book on-line! I am happy to go over the many options available. sandi@totemtravel.com or 1 800 321-7907

 

Panama Canal Cruise from Seattle


Celebrity Cruises is offering a 17 day Panama Canal cruise departing from Seattle! At the end of the Alaska cruising season, all of the ships transition to their homeport, or add an exotic cruise to the mix. Celebrity has chosen to offer a Panama Canal cruise from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale. Since this is a repositioning cruise, there is only one cruise date, September 21st -October 8th. Ports of call include a day in San Francisco, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta. There are also ports of call in Costa Rica and Cartegena, Columbia.

Celebrity Cruises are known for their beautiful accommodations and great food. Accommodations range from inside cabins, to elegant Royal Suites and Penthouse Suites (with a grand piano!). Presently most cabin categories are available but once word gets out about this great itinerary, I expect availability to diminish quickly! Prices range from $1750 per person (based on double occupancy) for an inside cabin, to $2850 per person (double occupancy) for a cabin with a balcony.

Concierge Class Staterooms are available for those who wish to be pampered but would rather not go all the way with a suite. The Concierge Class staterooms offer early embarkation and debarkation, welcome Champagne, a pillow menu, 100% Egyptian cotton oversized bath towels, plush bathrobes and a veranda with lounge seating, and many other amenities. The Concierge Class Staterooms do run a bit more than the standard balcony stateroom, but you’re worth it! The cost is approximately $3025 per person (double occupancy).

Hurry to get in on this great opportunity! Please email sandi@totemtravel.com, or give me a call: 425-821-4100, or 1-800-321-7907 to book your Panama Canal cruise!

If you have been thinking of a Panama Canal cruise, this just might be the right choice for you. But if the dates are not quite right, there are many other cruises which traverse the Canal, either departing from California, ending in Florida, or just the opposite.

Get personalized help from a travel expert at no extra cost!

Cruise the Hawaiian Islands on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America



Click for Slideshow of Norwegian Cruise’s “Pride of America”

One of the best, and most comprehensive ways to visit all of the Islands of Hawaii in just 7 days, is to cruise!   Norwegian Cruise Line offers a cruise from Honolulu to 3 outer islands: Maui, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii.  Stops in Kauai and Maui include an overnight stay.  So no rushing!  Imagine visiting 4 islands, and only packing and un-packing once!

Saving money is on everyone’s mind these days.  A great way to save some money on vacation is by saving the expense of passports for the whole family, at about $100 + per person.  Since you are not leaving the USA, a passport is not required.  Another plus is eliminating additional hotel nights.  If you are flying from the West Coast, you can fly from your home city on the morning of the sail date, arriving in Honolulu with lots of time to spare prior to embarkation.  On the return, you will have plenty of time after disembarkation to get to the airport and fly home!

Of course no cruise is complete without a few excursions to see the sights at each port.  Since you will have an overnight stay in both Maui and Kauai, many folks prefer to rent a car and explore on their own.  Even though Hawaii is very exotic and you feel as though you are in a foreign land, you are still in the USA; we drive on the right side of the road, and all of the street signs are in English.  Albeit, Hawaiian names are a bit difficult to grasp at first!   Both Kauai and Maui have handy self guided island tours.  Just stop at the first ABC Store (they are everywhere) and invest in the CD version, about $15, and pop it into the car CD player and enjoy your tour!  And the fact that you are saving a lot of money!

On board the Pride of America, it’s business as usual, even while in port.  That means your meals are still being prepared 3 times a day, snacks are always available, and the bartenders are still on duty!  So if you prefer to return to the ship for your meals, that’s not a problem at all.  Otherwise, having breakfast and dinner on board, and your lunch ashore is still a good way to save some money.  Norwegian Cruise Line was one of the first cruise lines to offer dining called Free Style.  This means no assigned dining time, table or dinner companions.  This gives you even more freedom while in port.

Your stop in Hilo allows plenty of time to visit the Volcanoes National Park, or the Planetarium for some star gazing.  Do you enjoy the chocolate covered Macadamia Nuts…..go right to the source, at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory!  Your friends and family will appreciate your thoughtfulness when you bring home boxes of these tasty bites of Hawaii.

After leaving Hilo you will cruise to the other side of the island, past Mount Kilauea, you will hopefully be able to catch a few pictures the flowing lava in the darkness.  Of course, that’s something dependent upon Mother Nature!

Kona, Hawaii is a great place to explore.  There are so many shops, restaurants (if you choose), and activities, you won’t know which to do first!  A favorite is the Kailua Glass-bottom boat.  You will be able to experience the underwater paradise of colorful reefs full of fish and other aquatic wildlife!

Once back in Honolulu, if you have a late flight, be sure to visit Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head, and of course, Waikiki Beach!

If Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America sounds like the way you would like to see Hawaii, please give me a call or send an email.  I am happy to help you realize the fun of touring 4 islands in 7 days!

sandi@totemtravel.com
425 821-4100 or 1 800-321-7907

Disney Cruise Line is coming to Alaska!


If the adults in the family have been dreaming of a cruise to Alaska but thought the kids might not be as excited as they would be for a trip to Disneyland, your day has arrived!

Disney Cruise Line has heard the cries from the West Coast asking for a Disney Cruise Ship.  In 2011 Disney will add a 7 day family friendly cruise to Alaska, cruising roundtrip from Vancouver BC, on the Disney Wonder.  The Disney Wonder is hugely popular on its Caribbean itinerary and it offers so many activities for children and adults that you may never want to leave the ship!

  • A Disney cruise is the perfect family vacation! Disney Wonder has several youth clubs which offer all children, regardless of age, a place meet other kids, play some new games, watch a few movies, play video games, and just plain have fun! And we all know that when the kids are happy, everyone is happy!!
  • Aloft is a 24 hour club for your teens age 13-17 to participate, with their peers, in dance parties, board games, video games, as well as watch movies and listen to music at various music listening stations!
  • The little guys, age 3 months to 3 years, also have their own private club, called Flounder’s Reef Nursery! Activities at Flounder’s Reef Nursery are unscheduled, and based on the mood of your child. However, with movie time, storey time, and nap time, your little ones will be very happy.
  • For children ages 3 to 12, Oceaneer’s Club offers many, age appropriate activities. A computer lab with child-friendly computers, a crow’s nest slide and rope bridge for exploring, a dance floor, and a small stage for games, are but a few of the fun options available!!

We did say this was the perfect family vacation, didn’t we?  Studio at Sea offers lots of family entertainment with games, live entertainment, games shows, line dancing and movies!  Live musicals, Broadway style live shows, first run movies, including 3-D shows, and Character greetings, all offer the kind of first class entertainment we expect from Disney.

And food!  Disney Wonder has 9 very different dining options.  Among those is the Animator’s Palate, which celebrates the magic of Disney Animation and includes an innovative dinner show.  If you’re looking for a quick bite, Pinocchio’s Pizzeria, right next to Pluto’s Pool, serves pizza all day long!  For the adults that would like a quiet evening while the kids are occupied at Oceaneer’s Club, Palo offers Northern Italian Cuisine, in an adult’s only atmosphere!

Since this IS an Alaska cruise, Disney Wonder will be making port calls at Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.  Mendenhall Glacier and panning for gold are top excursions in Juneau.  Ketchikan is a quaint little town with a revitalized shopping area!  The Saxman Native Village, just outside Ketchikan, is a great way to watch Totem Poles being carved and to see some very unusual ones, as well. I saw one with Abe Lincoln on top!!   Skagway and the White Pass/Yukon train are nearly synonymous.  Everyone who visits Skagway wants to ride the White Pass/Yukon train.  The train was established in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush and has been operating since then with a brief shut-down in the late 1980’s.  In the early days of the White Pass Train it served as transportation for people and equipment, but now is primarily a tourist attraction.

Don’t forget the wildlife of Alaska!  During the cruise you will be treated to whale sightings, eagles soaring over the bay, (if you’re lucky you will catch one diving into the water, catching a salmon, and flying off again), and bears, hopefully not up too close!

Hopefully, with Disney Cruise Line sailing to Alaska, this will be your chance to take in a cruise to the Last Frontier, and keep the kids happy and entertained, too!

Sailings are available for booking now, and I would be very happy to help you choose the best sailing for your family.  Please send me an email, sandi@totemtravel.com, or give me a call at 425 821 4100.

An all inclusive family vacation…..and a free cruise!


Thinking of a family reunion?  A cruise is a great way to go with all meals included and onboard activities for every age group.  And, for 2010, Holland America is offering double group amenity points.  That means you can earn a free cruise and shipboard credits with a group as small as 5 cabins.  Let’s see… Grandma & Grandpa need one cabin, sis needs another and your family a 3rd… two more to go and someone is cruising free! 

Destinations include roundtrip Alaska cruises from Seattle and cruise tours with extra time at Denali Park and fishing at Copper River.  A great family vacation would be a Caribbean cruise and a great honeymoon  might be a European cruise.  Totem Travel can help you with any of these destinations and I am the cruise specialist for Totem Tavel.  I hope you’ll email or call sandi@totemtravel.com.

Princess Cruises offers “Love Boat” weddings at sea!


I just completed Princess Cruise Lines’ travel agent training program and I am now certified as a Commodore, the highest rank!  The training took several months and covered the entire fleet of Princess cruise ships, all their destinations, cruise tour itineraries and special features and services.

Although I’ve been a travel agent for 13 years and have cruised many times, I still learned a lot.  For example, did you know that you can cruise to Antarctica or up the Amazon River on a Princess Cruise? 

I have sailed with many other cruise lines but Princess is still a favorite.  Their entertainment is simply outstanding and the “Personal Choice” dining option is wonderful.  You can choose where, when and with whom you dine each evening and there are always great restaurant choices like a steak house, Asian cuisine and an Italian restaurant with 16 course dinner… amazing!

In my opinion, Princess Cruises is also the best choice for an Alaska cruise tour with wonderful lodges and a glass dome train to Denali National park where you’ll (hopefully) see the tallest mountain in the U.S., Mt McKinley.  There are also special extras on the cruise like naturalist lectures and guest appearances by well know Alaska adventurers, such as Libby Riddle, the first women to win the Iditarod. 

Another cool feature offered by Princess is the opportunity to be married at sea.  Most cruise lines will arrange a wedding ceremony prior to sailing, but on select Princess ships you can actually be married by the ship’s captain during your cruise! 

Onboard wedding coordinators help with everything from tuxedos to flowers to legal documents and family and friends can even observe your “Love Boat” ceremony live via Wedding Cam.  Pictures are beamed directly from the ship’s wedding chapel to a website where your guests can access them on a private link.  I told you this was cool!

Call or email if you need more information on weddings at sea, Alaska Cruise Tours or any other Princess Cruise destination.  In the interim I’m off to the Caribbean for a future report on Carnival Cruise LInes. 

TTFN!  Sandi  – Princess Cruises Commodore

The best travel agents travel!


 

The best travel agents travel and in 2007 Totem Travel was in Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, the good ol’ U.S.A. and on the high seas with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Jennefer started the year with an all inclusive vacation at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort.  Her next stop was Las Vegas for a special family birthday, followed by an  NCL Alaska cruise and a week in France touring the Loire Valley to complete her France Specialist certification program.  She wrapped up the year with some fun in the sun on the lovely island of St Lucia and is sadly “grounded” until April when she’s off again to Scotland. 

Sandi spent a week in Jamaica, tested her slot machine skills in Reno & Lake Tahoe, hosted a group of friends on a Royal Caribbean fall foliage cruise to New England and visited the Big Island of Hawaii in December.  Some of her favorite vacation resorts were Sandals Dunns River for couples only, Kona Village for Hawaii “the way it used to be” and the Hapuna Prince Resort.

My travels included a family vacation sightseeing in Washington D.C., three weeks island hopping in the Caribbean and a Christmas trip to Playa del Carmen Mexico.  My favorites were Jade Mountain, Ladera and Jalousie Plantation for an intimate and very private villa style honeymoon, Beaches Negril or Iberostar Paraiso Maya for an activity packed all inclusive family vacation, and Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Grande Antigua for the newest “luxury included” couples only resorts.

As a rule, the staff at Totem Travel is pretty much office bound January through March booking everyones’ sun breaks, school vacations and summer honeymoons.  But you can count on us to hit the road again by April because the best travel agents travel and we’ve got some of the finest travel junkies in the business!

Royal Caribbean Fall Foliage Cruise


Last blog I talked about our visit to New London, Connecticut and Portland, Maine.  Both are wonderful examples of typical New England towns, with an abundance of history, great seafood and shops selling New England treasures. 

After leaving Portland, we sailed toward Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Since it is quite a long trip we had one full day at sea.  This was a blessing, since most of us needed a “down” day.  It was so much fun exploring the ship, taking advantage of the Hair Salon and the Spa, the fitness center, shopping at the many stores, and of course, having a few snacks at the Promenade Café and Ice Cream Shop.  During the evening hours, we were able to take in a fantastic musical production in the theater.  Most ships have 2 shows each evening to accommodate the early dining guests and the late dining guests.  Explorer was no exception. 

Halifax is a beautiful city, full of beautiful architecture, and sea views.  We joined a shore excursion to the world famous Halifax Citadel, which sits 120 feet above sea level and is an impressive star-shaped fort. As you arrive at the fort, you will notice the sound of bagpipes greeting you. The Citadel was built in the mid 1700s by the British, and is still guarded by the 78th Highlander Regiment. 

From the Citadel, we continued to Peggy’s Cove, which is a fishing village, about 30 minutes from Halifax.  One of the world’s most famous and most photographed lighthouses is Peggy’s Point Lighthouse.  Built in 1868, of wood, to protect the entrance of St. Margaret’s Bay, it first housed a red-light. During World War II was used by the Royal Canadian Navy as a radio station. 

In 1954 after an especailly bas storm, the lighthouse was replaced by a concrete and steel strcutre.  It was manned until 1958 when it became fully automated.  During the summer months, the lower level of the lighthouse is the Village Post Office. Here, visitors can send postcards and letters to friends and family members. Each piece of mail receives a special cancellation mark that is in the shape of the lighthouse.

Please contact me for your Royal Caribbean cruise. Sandi

Totem Travel 12305 120th Ave NE Kirkland, WA 98034
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