Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 - the Year of the Hawaii Cruise

Will 2011 be the year of the Hawaii cruise? It would seem that way from the new Travel Trends Survey from Travel Leaders.

The annual look at where Americans plan to vacation in the coming year finds surging interest in Hawaii cruises. Sailings around the Aloha State jumped six places to land at No. 8 among top domestic destinations, just ahead of San Francisco and just behind Washington, D.C.

Cruising to Alaska was No. 3 on the list -- the same as last year. It remains behind perennial top spots Las Vegas and Orlando (which flipped positions this year at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively). Rounding out the Top 10 among domestic destinations were Honolulu and Maui's Kahului (tied at No. 4); New York City (at No. 6); and Chicago and Phoenix (tied at No. 10).

Among international destinations, "Caribbean cruising" remains the top choice among Travel Leaders customers, as it has been in the past, placing ahead of perennial No. 2 Cancun, Mexico. "Mediterranean cruising" continues a multi-year upward climb to land at No. 3 for the first time, ahead of Mexico's Riviera Maya and Rome. Mediterranean cruising ranked at No. 4 last year.  Also on the list of top international destinations was "Mexico cruising," at No. 10 (up from No. 11 last year).

Conducted in November, the survey is based on actual booking data for 2011 from 547 Travel Leaders travel agency outlets across the USA.  The survey also found that a majority of customers (50.1%) will spend more on travel in 2011. A tad more than 38% said they spend the same amount, with the balance saying they'd spend less.

Among other findings: Last-minute leisure travel is starting to decrease after jumping during the economic downturn. The survey found just 23.3% of Travel Leaders customers were booking a domestic trip within four weeks of traveling vs. 29.8% a year ago. The percentage of customers booking eight weeks or more in advance of a trip has jumped to 61.4%, from 54.5% a year ago.
Posted Dec 20 2010 9:10AM - By Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Friday, December 17, 2010

The New Haven Firebirds Fundraiser

The New Haven Firebird Society (a professional Firefighters’ organization) has chosen The Cruise Outlet of Hamden, CT, to help them raise money to benefit their scholarship program.

A 7-day cruise sailing from New York on May 28, 2011, is scheduled.  It will be on the Norwegian Jewel and will visit 3 islands in the Bahamas. 

For every cabin booked on this cruise, a donation by the Cruise Outlet is being made to the New Haven Firebirds Scholarship fund.

The Cruise Outlet will also be providing some special gifts and events onboard exclusively for passengers who booked this cruise with them.

Rates are as low as $439.00 per person based upon double occupancy.  People interested in booking can contact the Firebirds at 203-641-0856 or call The Cruise Outlet at 203-288-1884.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Royal Caribbean Offers Refunds to Brilliance Passengers

December 13, 2010    3:35 PM

Royal Caribbean International will refund cruise fares to passengers onboard Brilliance of the Seas, which listed during a severe storm Dec. 12 as it approached Alexandria, Egypt. The company is also giving them an onboard credit of $200 per stateroom and $400 per suite.
As the ship continues its voyage, Royal Caribbean continues to assess the incident. About 30 passengers were injured, mostly bumps and bruises, although two guests suffered fractures. The medical facility onboard is fully operational and caring for guests.
The company said the severe ship movement caused damage to some public areas and a loss of electricity in some staterooms. Aesthetic damages to the ship’s interior forced the closure of three public venues for the remainder of the sailing -- the beauty salon, video arcade and disco. “There has been no impact to the ship’s operating systems or engines, and the ship continues to be fully seaworthy,” the company said.
During the approach to Alexandria, the ship experienced extreme wind and sea conditions, including heavy seas and 70 knot winds, nearly double what had been forecasted.
Brilliance of the Seas did not call at Alexandria and instead proceeded to the next port of call, Valetta, Malta, where it will arrive at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14. The ship will conclude its sailing in Barcelona, Spain, on Dec. 17, as scheduled. Subsequent cruises will sail as scheduled and the ship will not require a dry dock, as repairs are under way.
“Royal Caribbean understands that this has been a frightening experience for our guests and crew, and our officers and crew onboard Brilliance of the Seas will make every effort to ensure that the remainder of the cruise is as enjoyable as possible,” the company said in a statement.

Monday, December 13, 2010

NCL Positions Two New Ships in Alaska, Bermuda for 2012-13

Announced December 08, 2010 

Norwegian Cruise Line is repositioning some of their ships which sail in Alaska and Bermuda in 2012-13.

For the first time, the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel will sail Alaska’s Inside Passage, joining Norwegian Pearl, which is sailing to Glacier Bay from Seattle.  Norwegian Jewel will replace Norwegian Star and cruise from Seattle on a seven-day Sawyer Glacier itinerary. The cruises will depart on Saturdays from May 26, 2012, to Sept. 8, 2012, to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria. Norwegian Jewel will also sail a seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on May 19, 2012, and a seven-day Sawyer Glacier from Seattle to Vancouver on Sept. 15, 2012.

Norwegian Pearl will operate seven-day Glacier Bay cruises departing on Sundays from May 13, 2012, to Sept. 9, 2012. The itinerary includes Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria. Norwegian Pearl will also sail a seven-day Glacier Bay cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on May 6, 2012, and a Seattle-to-Vancouver cruise on Sept. 16, 2012.

In Bermuda, the 2,348-passenger Norwegian Star will sail to Bermuda from in New York City on Sundays to Bermuda, staying for three full days for the 2012 season.  The 2,224-passenger Norwegian Dawn will depart on Fridays from Boston with three days in Bermuda.

Pride of America will continue as the only U.S.-flagged vessel sailing among all four of Hawaii’s main islands. The seven-day cruises from Honolulu are available through April 7, 2013. Ports of call include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; an evening sail by the Kilauea Volcano (weather permitting); Kona, Hawaii; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kauai; and an afternoon cruise off the Nãpali Coast.

The Cruise Outlet of Hamden, CT a certified Agency for Norwegian Cruise Line has begun to confirm passengers on these sailings.  Although many passengers feel they have plenty of time before bookings, according the The Cruise Outlet, passengers who they are booking now for the Bermuda and Alaska season of 2011 and 2012 will get the best possible rates and premier cabins and locations.  Almost every sailing for the 2011 and 2012 sailing carries with it on board credits of as much as $300.00 per booking.  This on board credit is “free’ money to spend on the cruise for almost anything. 

The Cruise outlet is available at or 800-775-1884

Friday, December 10, 2010

Celebrity to Offer New AquaClass Suites, Expanded Lawn Club

December 08, 2010 9:45 PM

Celebrity Cruises is adding new features -- including spa-inspired suites and an expanded Lawn Club -- on its new Solstice-class ships due out in 2011 and 2012. Driven by high demand for Celebrity’s AquaClass category staterooms, Celebrity will introduce AquaClass Suites on Celebrity Reflection, with each offering 251 square feet of interior space and 57-square-foot verandas. The AquaClass Suites will include the amenities found in AquaClass staterooms, including exclusive and complimentary access to the specialty restaurant Blu. The new suites also will offer butler service.

In addition to the 34 new AquaClass Suites, Celebrity Reflection also will have an eight additional Sky Suites, 19 additional ConciergeClass staterooms, and 11 more inside staterooms, bringing the stateroom/suite total to 1,515.

Both Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection will present the 56-seat Lawn Club Grill, an outdoor grill venue. A new specialty dining option overlooking the lawn and sea, The Lawn Club Grill will have stainless steel grills and other appliances, custom pizza-making tables and large ovens. By day, the venue will present a casual lunch menu with high-end burgers, but also will offer demonstrations and classes focused on pizza-making, grilling secrets, marinades and more, led by Celebrity chefs, as well as guest chefs participating in the “Savor Your Destination” program. By night, guests can choose meats to either grill themselves, side-by-side with Celebrity’s chefs, or have grilled to order. A nominal surcharge will apply.

The Porch will be a Hamptons-style spot for simple complimentary breakfasts and lunches. The 48-seat venue will be located on the starboard side at the entrance to Lawn Club and will serve complimentary fresh pastries, salads, Paninis and other sandwiches, in addition to specialty coffees, beer and wine.

“The Art Studio,” located within the area of the Lawn Club, will let experienced and novice artists to get hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, painting and beading, as well as the art of food, with plating, tastings, mixology and other culinary-themed classes. The Art Studio also will present pairing dinners hosted by guest chefs participating in Celebrity’s Savor Your Destination program.

For a private retreat overlooking the lawn, ocean and coastlines, Celebrity also will present within The Lawn Club, The Alcoves, eight cabana-style settings, each designed for two to four guests. Each of The Alcoves on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection will offer Wi-Fi, themed picnic baskets and an a la carte beverage menu. The Alcoves will be available as partial or all-day rentals. Adjacent to The Alcoves will be eight hammocks and two whimsical, oversized Adirondack chairs.

Michael’s Club -- a venue found on every Celebrity ship -- will add a selection of more than 50 beers, including craft beers, and will allow guests to participate in sessions focused on food and beer pairings, how to pour the perfect draft, or how to select the proper beer glass. Snacks will include gourmet potato chips, bread sticks and caramel popcorn, amid live music or sporting events airing on 46-inch TV screens.

The Cruise Outlet in Hamden, CT, is foremost in booking passengers on the Solstice class of ships with resident experts of Celebrity and these ships on staff to provide their clients with all the most knowledgeable information for this cruise experience.

Also, the Cruise Outlet is managing a program with American Express for clients who hold the Platnium Card to provide for additional benefits when booking with them for Celebrity.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Value of the Travel/Cruise Agent

©NABA Cruise Consultants - July 2010
Neil Gorfain, CEO of NABA Cruise Consultants, Hamden, Connecticut, provides Cruise Line Senior Management with objective information of their product via live unannounced cruise visits.  He is regarded by most of the Cruise Executives as one of the most objective people in the industry and provides them with detailed information on much of the positive operations within the ship.

This is an excerpt of an article published in major consumer publications during 2008 and 2009.

You can reach Neil at

Get the best value from your Cruise
You should rarely have to pay the published price shown in the brochure for your cruise. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. But the first thing a consumer needs to know is what are the “prices” published in the brochure and when was the brochure printed.

It is possible to get a really cheap price for a cruise and save lots of money.  YES, but what if you end up with a lousy cabin (like one under the kitchen, or next to the Disco), or on a dirty ship with terrible food? Would you consider that a "Good Deal"?

Smart cruisers want the best Value for their dollar.  Remember, each person going on a vacation or cruise is looking for something different.  So, price should be the last factor involved in your decision to cruise and on what ship.

Use a Travel/Cruise Agent
Here is a list of Questions every consumer should ask the person they are dealing with in regard to booking their cruise:
  • What other products does the company sell?  The more things they sell, the less they will know about the cruises.
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Does the company have an office and operate from a real location? (this is against many people who are selling cruises from their homes and bedrooms!!)
  • How long has the person you are dealing with been in the business?
  • Has this person you are dealing with cruised before?
  • Has this person you are dealing with cruised on the cruise line and ship you are interested in? (This is very important in regard to the questions you may have)
  • Are they certified and accredited by that cruise line?
  • Are they accredited by the Cruise Association? This is in regard to further training and education they mayhave in regard to taking care of you and knowing the differences between the ships.
  • Can you call and speak with the same person each and every time?  Are they on incentive (they will say anything to get your business) or salary?
  • Do they have “preferred” agreements so they have to sell, promote and push certain cruise lines?
This may sound like a lot of work, but it is your money and we know we can save you hundreds of dollars for a great cruise with a little planning.
Bottom line - you are always better off using a Professional Cruise Agent to book your cruise!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things to Consider When Planning a Cruise

©NABA Cruise Consultants - July 2010
Neil Gorfain, CEO of NABA Cruise Consultants, Hamden, Connecticut, provides Cruise Line Senior Management with objective information of their product via live unannounced cruise visits.  He is regarded by most of the Cruise Executives as one of the most objective people in the industry and provides them with detailed information on much of the positive operations within the ship.

This is an excerpt of an article published in major consumer publications during 2008 and 2009. You can reach Neil at

If you are a single traveler, you should be aware that most Cruise Lines charge what is referred to as a "single supplement". Cruise Lines base their rates on two people staying in each cabin. If you are going to travel by yourself, they will charge you a supplement fee. Some cruise lines will charge as much as 200%, so you are basically paying for the other person. The single supplement rates will vary from one cruise line to another and from one sailing date to another. A good Cruise Professional can be an invaluable resource, especially if your travel dates are flexible.

A "repositioning" cruise takes place when a ship is moved from one part of the world to another, generally on a seasonal basis. For example, many Cruise Lines will position ships in Alaska during the summer months when the days are longer. In September or October, they will move these ships back to the Caribbean. You can often find some very reasonable rates on these repositioning cruises.

If you have some flexibility as to when you are able to travel, it can make a big difference in your cruise fare. Holidays are always more expensive as is winter school break & spring break. If you are planning a Caribbean cruise, consider a fall time frame as kids are back in school.  Many people are concerned about Hurricanes in the Caribbean.  The actual Hurricane season is June 1 through Dec 1. Being a smart cruiser, you are not too concerned about hurricanes. The ships do not head into storms; they alter their route to avoid any bad weather.  So the worst case situation is that you will miss a certain port of call and the cruise will visit a different one or have an extra day at sea.  Programs, activities and shows all go on as usual.

Many Agencies, such as us, will offer shipboard credits and other amenities as a bonus on certain sailings. It is a promotion to get more bookings on certain sailings.  An onboard credit can be as much as $2000.00 on a particular cruise.  Ask us about these offers. Remember, on most cruises you pay for your drinks (sodas, cocktails, beer & wine), shore excursions/tours, spa treatments and gratuities. Having the shipboard credit helps to offset those expenses. Many amenities such as this are available if you book early enough.  Those that wait until the last minute because they think they will get a deal, lose!

An important part of getting a good deal is protecting your investment. An independent insurance company (one that just sells insurance) is far better that the insurance offered by the cruise lines. The difference in coverage is so vast; don’t look at the cost of the premium without considering the coverage and how it will be paid to you.  The Independent companies pay you the amount of the claim while many cruise line insurance coverage’s give you a credit for another cruise with limited terms and conditions.