Tag Archives: Travel-Agent

OceanMedallion for all Caribbean Princess Guests

Princess Cruises announces first fully-enabled OceanMedallion ship is now in service.

Princess Cruises has revealed that Caribbean Princess is the first ship in its fleet to have full OceanMedallion access. All guests on the vessel are now using the wearable device, which offers a more personalised cruise experience.

The OceanMedallion is the same size as a 10p piece, is fully automated and has no visible technology such as an on-off switch or charging function. Its features include:

  • A streamlined ship embarkation and disembarkation process, giving quicker and easier entry and exit
  • Keyless stateroom access
  • Enhanced interaction with crew members and other guests, e.g. staff can see guest’s individual food and beverage preferences and accordingly offer a more personalised service

  • OceanCompass, which provides interactive directions throughout the ship and allows guests to easily locate friends, family and children
  • Access for guests to a real-time look at their itinerary via portals throughout the ship, along with events and activities taking place during their cruise
  • Interactive games that can be played on portals across the vessel including trivia challenges and a shipwide digital scavenger hunt
  • A selection of casino games including poker, bingo and roulette available via guests’ smart devices and select portals

Best Connectivity At Sea

Caribbean Princess now also features MedallionNet, which gives guests faster internet streaming speeds equivalent to those on land.

The ship is based in the Caribbean all year round.

Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “Having 100 percent of our guests using OceanMedallion on every sailing of Caribbean Princess is a significant milestone that we are celebrating on the path to fleet-wide implementation. Our guests tell us that OceanMedallion is turning an already extraordinary experience on Princess Cruises into an even more spectacular holiday, making sailing on Caribbean Princess the ultimate Caribbean cruise.”

OceanMedallion was first unveiled by Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald in 2017. It will continue to roll out as part of a phased fleet-wide activation plan.


Celebrity Transforms Galapagos Experience

After emerging from a seven-day makeover in Panama, the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition is surrounding guests in upgraded comforts as they explore the Galapagos Islands. It’s another bold step in THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION, beyond the introduction of two industry-changing ships – Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Flora – and the $500 million modernisation of the rest of the brand’s fleet.

Scheduled to make its return to service on 23 September 2018, the revitalised Celebrity Xpedition will debut an array of enhancements across the 100-guest ship, such as redecorated staterooms, lounges and restaurants, and faster and more reliable Wi-Fi. All of which will compliment the natural beauty of the Galapagos, and allow guests to stay connected even as they disconnect.

“Our commitment to the Galapagos Islands has never been stronger, because we know, having sailed these awe-inspiring islands for so many years, what a life-changing experience it is to come here,” noted Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and ceo, Celebrity Cruises. “The upgrades we’re making to Celebrity Xpedition and the upcoming arrival of our new Celebrity Flora, the first ship designed specifically with the Galapagos Islands in mind, will transform the way our guests discover this amazing place and take our unrivalled Galapagos offerings to an entirely new level.”

THE BEST SHIP IN THE GALAPAGOS IS GETTING EVEN BETTER

As part of her modernisation, Celebrity Xpedition will undergo the following enhancements from bow to stern:

  • Suites and staterooms will be stunningly refreshed, adding new carpeting and balcony upgrades to a list of already impressive touches. This includes Celebrity Cruises’ eXhaleTM bedding to create a relaxing atmosphere after a long day’s adventure
  • All suite and stateroom doors will be outfitted with RFID lock technology, making it easier for guests to access their rooms
  • An upgrade to the shipboard IT systems, including the addition of an O3B satellite to improve the speed and reliability of the ship’s full-coverage Wi-Fi. The adjusted bandwidth will enhance both guest experience and crew efficiency
  • The Beagle Grill will be outfitted with new furniture and lighting so guests can enjoy an intimate dining experience under the sun and stars, and new ultra-modern culinary equipment to help bring the menus crafted by Celebrity’s Michelin-starred chef to life
  • In the Discovery Lounge, guests will find a new, state-of-the-art video wall, upgraded finishes and textiles, as well as a new dedicated DJ station to elevate the ambiance of this guest-favourite hangout
  • The Darwin Dining Room will receive similar design enhancements with new lighting, carpet and millwork
  • Water filtration system on every deck for guests to enjoy
  • Crew area enhancements including new mattresses with Celebrity’s eXhaleTM bedding, carpets, and Dayroom TV

Celebrity Xpedition will debut these enhanced suites, services and amenities in June 2019, to coincide with the arrival of the new Celebrity Flora. Suite guests will be equipped with marine binoculars to use on their cruise, as well as premium backpacks and rain ponchos that they can take back home with them. Whilst guests unwind in their suites on-board, stateroom attendants are on hand to help with their packing and unpacking, and are provided with full in-suite dinner service, upgraded premium bathrobes, luxurious Kuno bath products from Ecuador, and many more during their sailing.

FROM BUCKET LIST TO BOOK-IT LIST

With more than 14 years in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity Cruises remains the authority in the region, offering guests an unparalleled experience in this iconic archipelago of volcanic islands. It offers all-inclusive  holiday packages ranging from seven to 16 nights, each featuring an immersive seven-night cruise and seven certified naturalists on board.

The TTG Awards 2015 – A Finalist

My Journey to the TTG Awards

I remember the times that our management team would attend the TTG Awards and come back celebrating. They would get pizza delivered to the staff in the office to celebrate.

A Royal Departure

People thought I was crazy when I said I was going to leave the security of my job at the Royal Caribbean call centre in Weybridge to start my own business.   I had been there for 2 years and was one of the top achievers. I never wanted to go into ‘sales’ and still it makes me shudder at the sound of the word, but my title as a Personal Cruise Specialist, kept me focusing on my passion rather than the sales targets.

Royal Caribbean Staff Christmas Party 2012 at Sandown, Esher

Sitting at my desk in the Royal Caribbean call centre, with a little help from our friends.

I loved my job, at least talking about cruising and helping people plan their next holiday was great. As I managed 5 cruises during my time there in addition to becoming part of a promotions team showing people around the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise ships when they were in Southampton and Harwich, I certainly had plenty to talk about.

My first cruise on Grandeur of the Seas had me hooked.

Being in a call centre environment was very tough for me. The restrictions that were placed on us with our call monitoring really frustrated me. I felt that given a free reign to do and say what I wanted and take as long as I like to do so, would really help improve the rapport between myself and the guest and I was convinced if I was allowed to do this, people would not want to book elsewhere ever again.

Cruise Franchisee

I was so excited about being the owner of a travel franchise. I got my business cards, headed paper, website and all the access to training and booking every cruise line imaginable. At first, when my phone would ring, I just froze. At Royal Caribbean we had a tick list of things we had to say, so although it wasn’t scripted, you had a guide to follow. I was scared of what people would ask me about as I only knew three brands.

At the helm of my own business, I introduced myself to the world at the Black Cherry Fair in Chertsey.

I used my newly found love and soon to be fiancé as a distraction for the first few months. He was helping financially and looking after him was a full time job with his forgetfulness, clumsiness and type one diabetes. We decided to start a family. Well, I had my 13 year old daughter but my partner didn’t have children and with me fast approaching 41, I felt we needed to make this a priority. It worked! 6 weeks into the pregnancy the cracks started to show in the relationship and it ended shortly after.

Sinking Ship

This left me in a position where I had no job, no income, no savings, a teenage daughter and I was pregnant at 40. I think it was inevitable that depression followed shortly after.  The next 7 months were a blur and most days I just couldn’t face talking to anyone. I hate to think how many bookings I let go in that time, but I just spent days and days on the sofa watching tv and longing for the day my baby would be here. I was hoping that once the baby was born I would be in the right frame of mind to get stuck into the business. I can only thank from the bottom of my heart, those customers/friends who stuck with me during that time.

Set Sail Again

Joshua at one week old almost to the hour, we made our first booking together.

When Joshua was 1 week old we made our first booking. It was almost like my customers pushed me into working. They were having none of this “I’m tired” stuff, they wanted to book a cruise and that was that. They could have gone anywhere else, but they wanted to book with me. I didn’t understand why, but anyway I went with it and the bookings started coming in.

A lot of travel agents thought my success was down to bringing my Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises customers with me, but this was not the case. I think about three of my original customers found me through various ways online via social media and another had become a good friend of mine before I left, so naturally stuck with me. I have had a few customers come to me through the GoCruise website and a few web leads but the majority of my business, in fact 98% of my business is referrals. I have never placed an ad anywhere as it’s not been necessary.

Being A Cruise Expert

I love my job and being a cruise expert means I have to spend as much time getting to know the differences between the different cruise lines and which ones suit who. It’s not just as straightforward as which cruise line, that is just the first factor. You then have to think about destination, time of year and price. All of these things will have an impact as to the type of people that will be found onboard and if you don’t match the right person with the right cruise, it will be there worst nightmare.

Joshua at the age of 8 months on his second educational cruise. This one was Ruby Princess.

Cruises can cost a significant amount of money and in some cases people take one in a lifetime or at least every couple of years.   People work so hard for their money and sometimes spend months if not years planning the cruise, so you don’t want them to feel disappointed in any way with their chosen cruise. I have and will continue to talk someone out of a cruise if I think they will not enjoy it. Sometimes a cheap price can really pull people into booking a cruise, but if you know your customer is very frail and cant stand the cold, you cannot let him go to the arctic in winter. No amount of profit is worth that. What is the point in going on a cruise that you cannot enjoy the destinations?

Happy, Blessed and Thankful

So nearly three years into the business, I am happy, I enjoy my job if you can call it that because I love it so much. Obviously to be an expert it is imperative that I get on as many cruise ships as possible so what is there not to love?   Then you talk to guests about cruises, again an absolute pleasure.

Going full circle, from working with Royal Caribbean to being a guest travel agent onboard the brand new Quantum of the Seas.

To top it all off, I have been absolutely blessed with being nominated for not one, but two of the travel industry’s most prestigious awards Cruise Agent of the Year and Travel Agent of the Year – Independent. The TTG Travel Awards 2015 is organised by the industry’s leading trade magazine, Travel Trade Gazette and boasts a unique awards format, with the main ceremony at the Lyceum Theatre, West End followed by an after-party at The Savoy, London.

The TTG Travel Awards are regarded as the universal benchmark of quality within the travel industry; the rigorous judging process involves over 30,000 agent ratings combined with judging from elite industry experts, making the TTG Awards the most coveted industry accolade.
“The TTG Travel Awards really are the blue riband of the travel industry, celebrating those businesses who are truly on top of the world when it comes to travel and tourism. This year we are building on their success by once again announcing our winners centre stage at iconic West End theatre the Lyceum, home of The Lion King, before a spectacular after-party at The Savoy. I’d personally like to extend my congratulations to [for making it into our hotly-contested shortlist and I am looking forward to finding out the winners on the night!”
Daniel Pearce, Managing Director, TTG Media Ltd

When I heard about it I was stunned.  It is an absolute honour to have been recognised in this way by the industry and I have already noticed a difference in the trust new customers have in me.  If I am one of the lucky winners, I am sure it will have even more of a positive effect on my business.

The awards night is on 28 September at the Lyceum Theatre with an after party at the Savoy. I am not expecting to win as I was totally shocked that I was even nominated once, let alone twice, but I am looking forward to an incredible evening with the industries top names and to find out who the secret celebrity host will be on the night.

“congratulations from all of us at 107.8 Radio Jackie”

Lucy, Josh and I at Polo in the Park 2014 courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

SaveSave

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Ship Review

So the day had finally arrived. Wow! What can I say this ship is amazing.  As we drove through Dock Gate 10 to City Cruise Terminal in Southampton, I saw the most incredible sight I had seen, since I my visit on Independence of the Seas here three years ago.

With my cruise virgin friend Alex in tow, we embarked the brand new Norwegian Breakaway and headed to the buffet to beat the crowds. There was a fabulous selection of foods on offer, so I endulged in a bit of everything. From salads to burgers, stir fry’s to curries, hot dogs, filled croissants, a carvery, freshly made pizza and chilli, the hardest part was choosing what to eat. Then came the desserts. Freshly sliced melon, fruit salad, no added sugar deserts, gluten free jelly, chocolate praline cake, passion fruit cake, apple pie and an ice cream parlour with sprinkles, it was heaven.

We took on the marathon challenge of trying to see as much of the ship as possible before settling down at the bar for a well deserved drink. Alex seemed to fair better with his sense of direction which I put down to beginners luck. So we managed to see the aqua park and sports complex, The Haven by Norwegian, Mandara Spa with barbers and hairdressers, thermal suite and fitness centre. Splash Academy kids club, Breakaway Theatre, Maltings Beer Whiskey Bar and a selection of staterooms.

Having seen as much of the ship our legs could bear to take us, we sat by the pool on deck 15 and enjoyed a nice cold drink. If only this was my office everyday!

That evening we headed down to the Atrium for a pre-dinner aperitif and enjoyed the sounds of one of the regular duo performing acts.  The bar was buzzing with people and had a great atmosphere. Some people were dressed up to the nines and others had taken a more casual approach. But they all had one thing in common, a smile, great conversation and a glass of something nice in their hand. 

The Atrium is a great place to meet up before or after dinner with friends. I can imagine on one of the Southern Caribbean cruises, it would be a place where people would exchange their experiences and views on the port of call they have visited and perhaps giving tips they may know about tomorrow’s port.

After our drink we headed for the Manhattan Restaurant where we were greeted by friendly, first class waiters. There was no doubt that Norwegian Cruise Lines had picked the cream of the crop from the other ships, to work on their latest pride and joy.We were lucky to get a table by the window in the main restaurant.

The selection on the menu was fantastic and as it was so difficult to chose I opted for two starters a main course and a dessert, whereas my guest, Alex save the double servings for pudding.
For main course I chose the surf and turf which was lobster tail and steak, however not being too much of a meat eater but a huge fan of lobster, I asked if I could instead have surf and surf and replace the steak with a second lobster tail. “Of course Madam” was the waiters reply.
 I would like to thank Norwegian Cruise Lines for a wonderful day and evening, and for the opportunity to experience this wonderful ship.
We laughed and joked with the head waiter and his assistant throughout the meal who gave an excellent service whilst remaining friendly and relaxed. The cost of the meal?… well those of you who cruise frequently will know the answer, nothing. This is all included in the cost of your cruise.
Following our delicious meal, we took a stroll around the ship and decided we would visit Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Bar. By this time it was around 9.30pm and on entering the bar we found it was full of people of all ages seated at tables enjoying the music and singing along. It was really like a smokey old Jazz Club only without the smoke. Great atmosphere, great band and great choice of music. I really felt like I had stepped back in time and was experiencing something that I would never have done otherwise. For more information on the band have a look at their website www.slamallen.com


At around 10.30pm I was flagging and I had to leave Alex in the bar to enjoy the rest of his evening and go off to bed. Knowing that I had such a comfortable freshly made bed waiting back in my room for me, made it a very easy decision to make.

I would like to thank Norwegian Cruise Lines for a wonderful day and evening, and for the opportunity to experience this wonderful ship.