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February 2010

  
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18 February 2010 - Royal Caribbean to deploy Radiance of the Seas down under

Posted by: Alan

Royal Caribbean Cruises has just announced that it will deploy a second ship in Australian waters over the 2011/12 season.

The line's Australian gm, Gavin Smith, confirmed that from Oct 2011 the currently deployed Rhapsody of the Seas will be joined by the larger Radiance of the Seas, more than doubling the company's Australian capacity.

He said both vessels would operate here Oct 2011-Apr 2012, with Radiance carrying over 2000 guests and offering a new Australian cruise experience.

"She is newer, longer, taller and faster than any ship that has ever been deployed in the Australian market, for Australians," he said.
 

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15 February 2010 - Monster Cruise Sale

Posted by: Nic Rone

Can you believe it's Friday again already?

Thanks for all the great feedback on the new website and the new & improved HOT DEALS - your comments are greatly appreciated. I'm glad you're all finding it easy to use and most of all that we are hitting the mark when it comes to our selection of product. 

Both the website and HOT DEALS certainly have gone off with a bang and we have seen an enormous upsurge in hits which is most encouraging. They are coming from far and wide, and if last week's extremely successful Valentines edition is anything to go by, there are a lot of you in the market and the mood for a holiday.

(Or maybe you'd all just forgotten to get your better half a present!!)
 
Anyway, I'm here now to give you something to dream and think about over the weekend - your next dream holiday! And this week we have focused on loading some incredible cruise deals to add to our already huge MONSTER CRUISE SALE.

So as always, Happy holiday hunting (and remember if you can't find one here then call us and let us find it for you)

FYI - I have included my latest cruise article below which will shed some light on crusing today?

Kind regards, 

Nic Rone

Owner / Managing Director

VLTravel (VLT)

MONSTER CRUISE SALE

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10 February 2010 - Don't gamble with your life - Take Out Travel Insurance

Posted by: Nic Rone

I cannot stress enough just how important it is for anyone travelling to take out travel insurance – and the reasons are many.

Sure, in this day and age there are quite literally hundreds of different pricing models, policy types and companies selling insurance, but I still think the premise is simple – you get what you pay for and you should always seek the advice of a professional before assuming, presuming or taking out any policy?

Three important points to this;

1. If it’s free – nobody ever gets something for nothing (we all know this), so it may just end up being worth exactly what you paid when it comes to claim time – NOTHING!
2. If it’s cheap – at the end of the day you get what you pay for? Sure it costs less, but rest assured you are covered for less?
3. If you don’t take it out at all – well that’s just plain dumb and you could be gambling with your and or your family’s lives, or life savings.

And believe me I know. Having been responsible for the well being of tens of thousands of holiday makers to Greece over 11 years with one of Greece’s largest inbound operators - a country where if anything can go wrong does go wrong – I dealt with quite literally hundreds of deaths, injuries, breakages, thefts and losses, and none were a laughing matter. Age also made no difference. Whilst the nature of the incident differed, Old or Young there were fatalities, thefts, injuries and losses just the same. Too many times I was left in a position to assist in the saving of someone’s life in extremely difficult circumstances such as on Islands, archaeological sites, cruise ships, deplorable hospitals etc, and this task was either made easier or harder depending on the client’s travel insurance company and travel agent. It really was on many occasions a matter of life and death, and I assure you it isn’t fun explaining to a family that their child has gone over a cliff in a hire car but has no travel insurance so we need $50,000 to pay for a medical evacuation or they could die - and this being only the first of many costs to come? Would that send you broke?

As a policy and rule, Travel Agents, (most assuredly this one), advises all clients to take out travel insurance to not only protect them whilst actually on holiday but from the very time of booking. If our clients decide to go elsewhere or not take out travel insurance we even go to the extent of having them sign or email to say they have been offered it and refused.

It is such an insignificant expense after all is said and done to have peace of mind and it still astounds me that some people will still travel without it simply to save money? How much is your life, your savings or the well being of you and your family and loved ones worth – surely it is more than just a few dollars? Don’t gamble with them?

What many people also do not understand unless they have been properly advised is that you don’t take out a policy for just the trip; you take it out from the moment you sign the paperwork and make your booking in order to protect you in case anything happens before you leave. It’s no good protecting you on your holiday if you never made it there in the first place is it?

Take the advice of trained professionals and never assume or presume – it could cost you your life or your life savings. Are you trusting a bank teller? Are you believing that blurb in the literature your credit card company sent you about your FREE insurance? Are you interested simply because it’s CHEAPER? – well think again; but this time taking into consideration what I have said above.

In order to sell Travel insurance travel agents are trained by their respective insurance companies and can with confidence advise you properly on the finer policy details to ensure no matter your age, destination or the duration of your trip, that you are covered in cases of emergency.

 
I am not saying that all Banks, credit unions or online companies selling travel insurance are bad or neglectful – far from it – there are many very good ones, but isn’t it better to be properly advised by someone who's actual business and skill is selling travel; someone whom you know and can actually call directly if something does go wrong?


If you are you travelling with "free" travel insurance offered possibly by your bank via your credit card, then ask yourself - Have I been lead to believe I will be "fully" covered in all sorts of circumstances?

If so, ask yourself the following questions;
1. Have I got anything in writing to state I am covered?
2. Have I received the policy wording? Have I read it?
3. What is my policy number?
4. What are the benefits of my policy?
5 What exactly are am I covered for?
6. What happens in the event of an emergency? Who do I call? Who provides emergency assistance?


These simple questions are crucial. At the end of the day you are purchasing INSURANCE to INSURE you are covered in cases of emergency. The cheapest or dearest policy is of absolutely no value if it does not cover you, and if you can’t even answer the simplest questions as stated above, then think again.

Don’t gamble with your safety and security. Talk to people who know what they are talking about. Travel agents just like all other institutions and businesses selling travel insurance have a suite of product and pricing, so they can advise and fit a policy to suit your needs and can basically match the pricing on anything online or through another company (you get what you pay for) – but most importantly you get added bonus of being properly advised, plus the back up of knowing you have someone to call if anything does go wrong.

Once again another reason we say “without a travel agent you’re on your own”.

 
(To read more about travel insurance you can go to our web page http://www.vlt.com.au/index.php?page_id=14  or visit the Government travel advisory website http://www.smartraveller.gov.au )

 

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09 February 2010 - Single Cruise Supplements Slashed

Posted by: Alan

Cruise lines have reduced fares for solo travellers, while a new ship will introduce studio cabins for one.

Single Cruisers are set to benefit this year from a range of new deals and facilities offered on cruises.

The most promising trend is the addition of 'studio staterooms' on Norwegian Cruise Line's new Norwegian Epic, due to launch in July.
The company has announced that its 4200-passenger Epic will have 128 studios designed and priced specifically for the solo traveller – with no single supplement.

Holland America Line also has singles cabins on Prinsendam, but charges a supplement; however, discounts are offered to solo passengers on its Grand Voyages.

Meanwhile, other cruise lines have reduced the costs for singles who solely occupy a double cabin.

Costa has cut the single supplement to 30% for Australian and NZ travellers on all cruises except its Asian 4, 5 and 6-night itineraries.

Silversea is offering single fares on all voyages, with supplements from 25%, depending on sailing and suite category.

Classic International Cruises has also reduced its single supplement to 25% for selected cabins on Athena, and allows single travellers to share cabins to lower the fare.

Earlier this year Cruise West waived or reduced the single supplement on its world circumnavigation, which departs Singapore next month.

Beyond Travel has also completely removed single passenger fees on several 2010 voyages along the Dalmatian Coast.
"This deal is still valid, until sold out, so probably through until September this year for October departures," said marketing manager Bryce Crampton.

Other cruise lines, such as P&O, MSC and Royal Caribbean, still charge an extra 100% supplement but have some flexibility.
MSC's surcharge comes down to 80% in some cases, depending on cabin category and sailings; while P&O Cruises charges 100% for suites and balcony cabins and 60% for outside and inside cabins.

Royal Caribbean's supplement is "occasionally reduced or removed on selected sailings as a special offer", said commercial manager Adam Armstrong.
Approximately 5% of Australian bookings are for single passengers, he said.

Source: Cruise Weekly

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05 February 2010 - This week's VALENTINE - Hot Travel Deals

Posted by: Nic Rone

Welcome once again to Friday afternoon.
Yep - it's that time of year again and I'm guessing like me you can't believe it's almost Valentines Day already!! - Wasn't it Christmas the other week?
And like me I'm also guessing you haven't even bought or booked something for him or her yet?

Well never fear - VLT is here - and this week we've concentrated on loading some special short stay Aussie Deals that extend right across Australia - so no matter your state - we have a deal to help say 'I LOVE YOU'
We have even included a 'Luxury Escapes' section highlighting special 'Indulgent & Romantic Short Stay' offers to help you choose, otherwise there are hundreds more to search from.

It is also worth mentioning for those of you who didn't get away at Christmas that we have loaded a significant number of South Pacific, Thailand and Bali offers which are just incredible value for money family and couples holidays.
And lastly - as many of you know we are in the middle of our MONSTER Cruise Sale, so for you nautical buffs, we have some simply extraordinary cruise offers to suit all tastes, budgets and destinations. 

Happy holiday hunting (and of you can't find one here then call us and let us find it for you)

Kind regards, 
Nic Rone

Owner / Managing Director

VLTravel (VLT)

  

 

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04 February 2010 - Cruising - is the real deal

Posted by: Nic Rone

For variety, value and satisfaction…you really haven’t lived until you’ve cruised!  

Cruising has been recognised as one of the fastest growing travel sectors in Australia & worldwide, and last year alone it is estimated that the number of Australians taking a cruise surged to almost 400,000. 

In March of 2009 the ICCA (International Cruise council of Australasia) estimated an increase of 26% in Aussies taking a cruise holiday despite the economic downturn, which meant the local cruise industry experienced its strongest growth in five years. It recognised Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises as attracting the largest numbers.  

These figures are as a direct result of increased capacity, greater itinerary options, bigger and better ships, upgraded facilities and amenities on board, and a growing public awareness of cruising as a great all inclusive value proposition. 

I have personally sailed on everything from a 150 foot wooden hulled ex Dutch naval sailing vessel through the Greek islands, right up to 2000 person Ocean going liners throughout Greece, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and the Whitsundays - and I rarely met a passenger who didn’t love the experience. In fact estimates show that the re-booking rate for clients who do a cruise is 50% within 12 months, and the figures for new first time cruisers repeating are equally as impressive which just goes to show they deliver results.

Think about it; you only have to unpack your bags once, you wake up in a different destination every day and your bed is made for you by your own personal cabin steward quicker than you can brush your teeth in the morning.  

During the day there are on board activities, pools to laze beside and beautiful ports of call to explore, and at night there are magnificent cabaret shows to enjoy, bands to dance along to, casino’s to play, movies to watch and drinks to be had during sunsets on deck. To cap it all off, breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided throughout and everything is fully inclusive of the price.  

So basically, once you’ve purchased your cruise, there is nothing left to pay, except for maybe a bottle of wine, a souvenir or two, or an ‘optional’ excursion? On average it is estimated that over 85% of your costs are already covered just by having purchased a cruise?  

As one of the fastest and largest growth markets in tourism, cruising has developed into a multi billion dollar industry with newer, bigger and better cruise ships being launched every year. The fierce competition between companies affords a wide range of cruise styles, vessel sizes and opens up new destinations constantly, which all translates into unbelievable deals for passengers. 

The hardest part of doing a cruise is in fact choosing what cruise itinerary to do or what ship to take – big or small? In both cases there are pluses and minuses. A large ship has more restaurants, bars, pools and general facilities but a smaller ship has more intimacy, fewer people and may be able to dock where larger ships cannot, negating the need to use tender boats. You can also choose child friendly or no kid cruises. Either way, it’s about understanding what you want, as today’s cruises can cater to any budget, taste, destination or time frame, so it’s worth giving it a go at least once.   

100 cruises on, I’m still loving them, so take it from someone who knows and talk from experience – cruising is the REAL DEAL.

 

Nic Rone

 

 

 

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03 February 2010 - Travel Agents - How can you go wrong?

Posted by: Nic Rone

If you are simple like me, then it’s the simple things in life that matter, and as they say “if you take care of the small things in life, the big things will take care of themselves”.

 
Since before opening VLTravel, in fact from the very start of my career in the service industry over 24 years ago, I have always held the belief that one should treat people just as one would like to be treated themselves – in fact it is my mantra. And whilst it is easy to say, it is another thing to live up to, especially in the travel industry where so many factors can affect the quality, enjoyment and well being of a person’s holiday. At the end of the day things can, and do go wrong, but thankfully more often than not these are the small things that make rather than break a holiday. They are the ‘experience’ part of it all, the situations that add to the adventure and create the interesting talking points when regaling stories to friends upon return.
 
But in my blog today, it is not so much the small things that happen on the holiday, but rather the small things that are taken care of well before one leaves for that holiday to ensure BIG problems don’t occur. The things I suggest should be taken care of by experienced, caring and knowledgeable travel professionals, which minimize the risk of anything BIG happening simply because the details were taken care of properly. The devil is in the detail as they say!
 
Yes it all sounds rather grandiose and possibly a little clichéd, but in reality the difference between getting it right and getting it wrong means the difference between enjoying the holiday of a lifetime and experiencing the vacation from hell – which is where a reputable, knowledgeable and experienced agent can make all the difference.
 
At times I hear people say they can find travel cheaper on the internet – an issue I addressed in yesterday’s blog - or that it’s easier to do it themselves, but at the end of the day, if you know where you want to go and how much you have to spend, or even if you don’t have a clue where to go but at least know your budget (which I urge everyone to make sure of before starting), then how can you go wrong by using a travel agent?
 
A good travel agent will talk to you, get to know you, learn what you do and don’t like and create a holiday to fit the parameters, scope and budget that YOU have set. In other words you set the budget, you set the dates, you tell them where (if you know) you want to go, and they do all the work for you. This way they can’t be too expensive because they will only quote against the budget you have set, as such you get someone to do all the work, get the best value deal, and have the security of knowing not only that your money is safe, but that you have someone to call if things happen before, during and after.
 
It is my belief that to get the best value holiday, with greatest possibility of enjoyment, fun and success, you’re better off using a travel agent that understands your needs enough to take care of the small things before you leave, so that you can enjoy the experience and not worry about anything big going wrong. After all, it is in their interests to get it right so that you keep on coming back for more!
 

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02 February 2010 - BEWARE The perils of booking travel on the World Wide Web

Posted by: Nic Rone

Do you read or hear stories from friends, family or colleagues about how much people can save by booking online, or directly over the internet?  Well I think its a bit like the 'gambler' syndrome - they will tell you the good stories, but not bring up the bad ones - and if you book online there is an element of gamble every time!

 

Think about it. You have never spoken to anyone, you have not met anyone, you have received no advice; you don't even know if they are licensed to sell travel, licensed professionals, or even exist for that matter? Even worse, they may not even be covered by the Travel Compensation fund which protects all Australian Travel Consumers (Insurance for your booking and your money) in case of fraud or closure of any travel agency. Yes - using a licensed travel agency means your money is protected - and as the industry saying goes - 'without a travel agent you are on your own!!'

 

What would you do if you arrived at your destination to find the hotel did not even exist, or arrived at your hotel and presented your voucher only to find there was never any accommodation booked or because the company went broke they won't honour your booking? - It happens and is happening – A LOT!!  Your money is lost, you're not at home, you will have to pay for the accommodation on the spot with what is probably your holiday spending money and you have absolutely no recourse to get your money back! – Not much of  a holiday hey?

 

And what if you had encouraged all your mates to do the same ('Guys I have found this incredible deal online - want join me and the family for a holiday???) and they had travelled with you or even worse have taken your advice and gone it alone - who do they turn to? You can't get your or their money back from the hotel, the agent (if they even existed), or through the TCF? – You are on your own and those savings have become your costs and more!!!!

 

At least by booking with or through a licensed travel agent you can have the security of knowing your money is protected, you have been given sound advice, you have someone to call who can help in cases of emergency - and that you have and are being looked after by licensed professional people. People who will want you to come back, talk about your experience, and enjoy it enough that you want to do it over and over again? - It just makes sense.

 

In life the saying goes - if it's too good to be true then it probably is?

 

Don't take it for granted that just because it looks legitimate that it is. Who are they really? How financially sound is their business? Is your money protected? Can you speak to someone? What country are they operating from? - all of these are very concerning and relevant questions?

 

You have shown just how conscious and concerned you are about your money simply because you've looked to get the best offer - so why risk your and even your friends money now? This is your dream holiday, your family vacation, your hard earned cash – don’t turn what could be the experience of a lifetime into the nightmare of the century !!!!!

 

So the next time you find that 'unbelievable book and pay online deal' with an operator, agency or supplier that you hardly know if at all - and go to press send on that $15,000 for which you will only to get a printout of a voucher - my advice is think twice!!

 

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