Say Hello to All-Inclusive Cruising

All-Inclusive Resorts are a huge draw to the Caribbean region. The concept of paying one price for all of your meals, drinks and activities is attractive to travelers who don’t want to worry about such charges once on vacation. This concept has been available on upscale, luxury cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas and Crystal for years, however purchasing one of those cruise vacations can be out of reach for some.

Today, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that, for a limited time, they will bring the All-Inclusive Experience to the mass market. This is a first for any major cruise line in its category, and I certainly expect the other lines (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney) to follow suit!

The details of the new All-Inclusive Package are as follows:

“The All-Inclusive package is available for 2015 sailings from three to 14 days in length, is priced by the number of days, and is available for all stateroom categories, including The Haven by Norwegian.

When adding the All-Inclusive to a selected cruise, guests receive 10 percent off the cruise fare. For a seven-day cruise, the $899 package includes

  • the Ultimate Dining package
  • the Ultimate Beverage package
  • Shore excursion credit of $200 per person
  • Pre-paid daily service charges/gratuities
  • 250-minute Internet package per person
  • 20 photos of any size
  • Chocolate-covered strawberries
  • A bottle of wine
  • One bingo session
  • Six bottles of water

For cruises from three to five days, the shore excursion credit is $100 per person; and for sailings from 9-14 days, the package includes 12 bottles of water.

As part of the All-Inclusive offer, Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining package provides complimentary access to one of the line’s specialty restaurants every night of the cruise, including Cagney’s, the popular steakhouse; French bistro, Italian restaurant, Moderno Churrascaria, Asian-Fusion restaurant and more.

The Ultimate Beverage package includes a variety of spirits, cocktails, draft beer, bottled beer and glasses of wine up to $10 and unlimited fountain soda and juices at all bars, lounges, restaurants and on Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay.

*Includes all scheduled 2015 sailings from three to 14 days (excludes back to back sailings)
**Does not include Pride of America; not applicable to bookings made in Continental Europe or United Kingdom.”

Book your 2015 cruise between August 4-24 and your sailing will be eligible for this package!
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Norwegian Updates Smoking Policy

Hot off the presses…

Norwegian Cruise Line has just released the following update to their shipboard smoking policy:

As the health and well–being of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance, Norwegian Cruise Line will institute changes to its smoking policy for all sailings on or after November 1, 2014. The specific changes prohibit smoking on stateroom balconies and limit smoking in the casino to players. On Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway, smoking on The Waterfront will be permitted on the starboard side, except by the outdoor dining areas. 

They are following in the footsteps of other cruiselines, such as Carnival, who have a very similar smoking policy aboard its fleet of ships.

Does this policy change have an impact on your choice of cruise line?

Headed to St. Lucia!!!

So THIS is exciting! I was just invited on a FAM trip by Sandals to visit all three of their properties in St. Lucia! YAY! I’ll be spending 4 days and 3 nights at Sandals Regency La Toc, with visits and resort tours at Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Halcyon. I can’t wait to share the photos and reviews of each resort with you all; this is an amazing opportunity and perfectly timed, as one of my friends/clients is getting married at La Toc in March!

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Relaxing with Princess Cruise Line

As part of my training as a travel consultant, I completed Princess Cruise’s Commodore training last year. For my Commodore Graduation, in addition to celebrating my April birthday, Mr. B and I completed a 5 day Eastern Caribbean Getaway cruise aboard Ruby Princess. It was by FAR the most serene, relaxing cruise I’ve taken to date. Here is my full review:
Since we reside in Tampa, we only had to drive 3.5 hours to Fort Lauderdale, where Port Everglades is located. We had pre-purchased parking at the nearby Park ‘n’ Go lot, which offered a free shuttle to the port. (BVB Tip: If driving, buy your parking online in advance. You will save some serious money by pre-paying). We arrived to the ship around 1:00 PM. After going through the motions of security, we walked straight to the Reservation Agent to complete check-in. Since we’d done most of it online in advance, there was very little to complete at the desk. The agent gave us our Cruise Cards; since I had graduated from Princess’s Academy, I was granted a black Elite card (which is their highest loyalty tier; you’re ship royalty at that level). We headed up to take our pre-cruise photo and strolled onto the ship.

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6 Awesome Benefits of Group Travel

When I founded Bon Voyage by Barbour in 2012, my goal was to specialize in cruises. I knew enough people who liked to cruise that I figured I could book one or two, here and there, and make it something fun to do on the side. I also figured I’d dabble in some all-inclusive resorts; my experience at the Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe was so incredible that I wanted others to experience the “AI” life too!

Almost immediately I received a request for a group cruise. Then another. And then yet another. Now, I’m finding myself working on 3 group cruises (so far) for 2014, a group AI getaway and two destination weddings. WOW!

I’m not sharing this information in a boastful way whatsoever. I never intended to work with groups, but I’m finding that they are SO much fun to work with, as everyone is SO excited about their vacation. Furthermore, group trips can often offer additional incentives to make this type of travel even MORE beneficial than they already are.

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So here are my reasons why group trips are awesome, in no particular order:

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National Cruise Vacation Week

This week is like the 7 Days of Christmas for fans of leisure cruising: the Cruise Line International Association’s (CLIA) annual National Cruise Vacation Week! NCVW began this past Sunday, October 20 and runs until this upcoming Sunday, October 27. During this week, every major cruise line – from budget to moderate to luxury – are running major sales in an effort to encourage both cruising veterans and newbies to book their next cruise vacation! Check out who is participating:

Pretty much everyone!

NCVW promotions include: significant savings off of new bookings, onboard spending credits, free shore excursions, and reduced deposits. Why not take advantage while the deals are hot?? I’m shopping for my next cruise as we speak! 🙂

 

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Jamaica FAM Trip: Beaches Ocho Rios

Hello my good people! I know it’s been awhile, but for good reason: your favorite travel consultant has been TRAVELING! Yes, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite Domestic Destinations, Ann Arbor Michigan, as well as go on a long-awaited trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. While in the DR, I had the opportunity to tour SIX resorts and will begin posting about my experiences shortly. Hopefully it won’t take me 6 months to write up those reviews….

When I last left off, we had just toured the all-butler, all-fabulous Sandals Royal Plantation, and had boarded our bus for the final stop of our whirlwind week in Jamaica, Beaches Ocho Rios. We would be checking in and staying two nights at Beaches before heading back to the USA. (sadface).

What a view!

What a view!

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Why IATA?

Last week granted me with quite a surprise: I was informed that I had qualified for my IATA Card. Now, a year ago, this would’ve meant nothing to me and honestly wouldn’t have even made sense. This year: it’s a big deal. Allow me to explain why….

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a globally recognized organization that is designed for travel professionals. There is a certain number of criteria that a travel professional has to meet before allowing to apply for their IATA ID card; he or she must work a certain number of hours per week and gross a certain amount in commission, among other things. It takes some agents several years to meet the criteria; for me, it took 11 months! I’m completely humbled by this achievement and grateful to all of my clients who trusted me with their travel arrangements. (This is starting to sound like an Emmy acceptance speech…)

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Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Montego Bay

Ahhhh, Sandals MoBay. I have fond memories of this resort; I think we (as a group) really bonded during our two day stay at Sandals Montego Bay. But more on that later. This isn’t supposed to be about me anyway! 🙂

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Sandals Montego Bay is situated near Sangster International Airport. Actually; “near” is not the appropriate word. The airport is quite literally across the street from this resort. The plus side is, you don’t have far to travel to get there. The negative? Airplanes. Those guests who are looking for a soothing retreat away from the noise and sounds of the city will not enjoy their time at Sandals Montego Bay. The airplanes fly over more regularly during the day, but honestly after the first day I barely noticed them. It soon became a reflex to lift my arm up and wave at the jets as they flew over, which is customary at this particular resort.

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Sandals’ new Grenada resort!

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photo credit: Sandals

On December 12, 2013, Sandals Resorts will open their newest (and pretty freakin’ awesome) all-inclusive resort on the island of Grenada: Sandals LaSource Grenada. Featuring 3 distinct villages (Pink Gin Village, Tahiti Village, and Italian Village), 9 restaurants including Sandals’ first prime Steakhouse, 5 pools including 2 river pools, and countless other luxurious all-inclusive amenities, Sandals LaSource is “The Most Alluring Destination in the Caribbean”. Known as the “Island of Spice”, Grenada offers an unspoiled paradise as your own lover’s playground. (source: Sandals.com)

The resort will offer 75 butler suites (a lovely amenity already present in sister resorts) and will introduce three new levels of suites: the Millionaire Suite (I’m already interested..), Rondoval and Skypool Suites. Plus, all of the rooms in the Tahiti and Italian Villages will have en-suite soaking tubs.

Sandals LaSource is already open for booking and they are offering Grand Opening specials, with steep room discounts and airfare credits. Why not be one of the first to check out this amazing and luxurious new spot?