Wednesday’s Chat on Friday!

Dancing With the Stars!!  What has the hit TV show got to do with travel?  In 2013 the Holland America Line has been hosting “Dancing with the Stars:  At Sea”.  Guests have had an opportunity to participate in complimentary dance classes, dance with Holland America’s professioanl dancers, and compete for a chance to earn the mirror ball trophy.  At the end of 2013, each Cruise Champion, and a guest, will be invited to become a finalist on the 7 day January Caribbean Champions Cruise, where they will compete for the trophy and title of Grand Champion.  In addition to the competition, in 2014, select cruises will feature professionals and stars from “Dancing With the Stars”.  Guests on the cruise will have an opportunity to take dance lessons, meet the dancers, ask questions, and take photos, as well as attend a production starring the celebrities, complete wih costumes and routines from the TV show.  The first of the show’s professionals and stars to appear in Jan. will be Kym Johnson, Tristan MacManus, and Sabrina Bryan. 
So, if you love dancing and you love cruising, this is the trip for you!

Should you Travel to Europe with a Chip and Pin Credit Card

Should you get a chip-and-PIN credit card for Europe?
 
Published Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 10:26 p.m.
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A European credit card enjoying modern chip-and-PIN technology clearly is superior to the old-fashioned magnetic-stripe credit cards issued to Americans. But is it worth the time and expense to equip yourself with a chip-and-PIN card for your next trip to Europe? That’s a hotly disputed question.
My own one-time experience with buying a chip-and-PIN card was not a good one. To obtain a card from a U.S.-based outlet selling it, I had to fill it with a certain number of euros at a badly disadvantageous exchange rate, in addition to paying a hefty fee for the card’s issuance. On the trip for which I obtained the card, I did not have a single need to use it. When I returned to the states and revisited the card outlet to turn it in, I again had to pay a fee to get the money that had been inserted on the card.
Still, would the European card have proved useful in other possible circumstances? Consider the following: Just as we Americans have to enter a PIN into an ATM in order to get cash, a European must provide a PIN in order to make use of a credit card. The chip inside the card will permit it to be used only if a PIN is given. This prevents the card from being used by a thief who has stolen or found it. That makes the European card clearly superior to ours.
But will a European hotel, restaurant or shop accept one of our old-fashioned cards, even if we don’t announce a PIN to that merchant? In the overwhelming number of instances, the answer is“yes.” Europeans have learned how to confirm the validity of one of our outmoded magnetic-stripe cards.
I have never once been unable to use my U.S. credit cards at a broad range of European establishments. Recently, I’ve been receiving letters from readers who had problems. One of them told of traveling in a lightly inhabited countryside area of Denmark, where she attempted to use one such card in a tiny shop that rarely saw a tourist. The proprietor was totally puzzled by her magnetic-stripe card. Throughout a one-week stay in this rural backwater, she could not use her card.
Others have told of an increasing number of unattended kiosks or card-accepting machines at serve-yourself gas stations or unattended railway stations, or even in the subway stations of several European cities. Those machines do not accept a U.S. card. Even at stations where an attendant sat behind a ticket window, the time needed to use a U.S. credit card was considerable, and the attendant was sometimes irritated to have to devote time to such an old-fashioned contrivance as a magnetic-stripe card.
So I’m starting to wonder. If I am planning a trip only to large cities, and never involving rental of a car or late-night use of a train station, then I don’t feel it necessary to obtain a European chip-and-PIN card. If I am planning a free-roving trip away from the big cities and through the European countryside, then it might be the way of wisdom to obtain such a card. USAA – the military bank that civilians find it increasingly easy to use – issues them. So does a firm called Travelex, with 200 stores all across America.

American Cruise Lines Offers Grand Ole Opry Experience

August 20, 2013 6:21 PM

American Cruise Lines is offering two seven-night cruises that include tickets to Leroy Van Dyke’s Sept. 27 show at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The Opry experience is on the Sept. 21 departure from Memphis to Nashville and the Sept. 28 cruise from Nashville to St. Louis. Van Dyke has recorded over 500 songs, including “The Auctioneer” in 1956 and “Walk on By” in 1961. The Mississippi River cruise itself will also featured musical performances by Dan Knowles and his Band, Juggernaut Jug Band, John Tomlin Band and Beale

LOVE BOAT’S LAST CALL

Farewell Pacific Princess, But Her Sister Ship is Still Sailing

By Theresa Norton Masek
August 09, 2013 4:39 PM

The iconic Pacific Princess is heading for the scrap heap, but her nearly identical sister ship, the Island Princess, is still sailing as the Discovery for Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV). The Pacific Princess was the main ship on the “The Love Boat” TV show from 1977 to 1986, but the Island Princess also was used in some episodes.

“It’s a shame about the Pacific Princess, but there’s still a Love Boat plying the seas,” said John Dennis, vice president of sales and marketing for Cruise & Maritime Voyages. “She’s still in great shape, mainly sailing in Northern Europe in and out of Britain, with occasional Med voyages at the end of her season.”

Dennis said “Love Boat” fans likely would recognize features of the 700-passenger Discovery, especially the funnels and the pool deck. “People who watched the show would say, ‘yeah, that’s where Gopher was.’ The funnel still is pretty recognizable, even though we have CMV on the side instead of flowing hair,” he said, referencing the Princess Cruises’ sea witch logo.

The Island Princess left the Princess fleet in 1999 and operated in South Korea for a few years. In 2002, it began sailing for All Leisure Group, which has since entered into a joint venture with CMV. Fort Lauderdale-based CMV began exclusively marketing the ship in the U.S. in February.

The Pacific Princess, now just called M/V Pacific, left Princess Cruises in 2002. It changed hands several times and then came to languish for years as the cost to renovate it skyrocketed. Reuters reported that Izmir Ship Recycling Co. acquired the M/V Pacific for €2.5 million and will break it up. Newer ships now bear the names Pacific Princess and Island Princess in the Princess Cruises fleet.

The 42-year-old ships and the TV show are often credited with helping increase the profile of the then-young cruise industry — although on the TV show, the huge cabins shown were actually filmed on a soundstage and bore little resemblance to the real accommodations.

CMV’s Discovery now is operating seven- to 15-night cruises to Norway, the Baltic, Iberia, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea through late October, when the vessel leaves service until Feb. 24. It begins its season with three 14- and 15-night “Land of the Northern Lights” cruises and then again explores the British Isles, Norway, the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg, Iceland and more.

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We’ve Done It Again!

Once again, we were voted Lynchburg, Virginia’s best travel agency!

The reason why is because we are dedicated to helping our clients in any way we can. This starts from the finding and planning of a vacation to when emergencies arise and quick action is needed.

Last week a family who have used us to travel before wanted to send their 11 year old daughter to Germany to visit the grandparents. A week into the three week vacation she became homesick and wanted to come home, so they called me asking what I could possibly do for them. It was a little tricky to get the airlines to cooperate, due to the daughter being an unaccompanied minor, but I was able to make it work. Calling the airline directly would not have worked for these parents because their English wasn’t strong and airlines don’t like to listen to people who they feel they don’t have to.

Booking online can sometimes be easier and cheeper, but when sticky situations come up, you’re going to want an agent on your side. 

So, if you’re trying to come up with a creative honeymoon idea, a new place for a family vacation, or want to go somewhere fun on a budget give us a call (phone number on the sidebar), e-mail bea@travellovers.com, or pop on in! We’re able to help locals and those out of town!

-Bea

46 Go Wild in Costa Rica

OLA!

Costa Rica has become quite a popular destination for family travelers and the adventure minded over the last 10 yrs or so. The people there are so very friendly and they love American tourists! You can use the US dollar, everyone speaks English as well as Spanish and wears a big happy smile. It’s also a budget friendly place to vacation. The beaches are nice but the real draw are the activities and the adventure aspect of this lush tropical country.

I escorted a business group of travelers to the Guanacaste region on the west coast back in May and we had a blast staying at the new RIU Palace Costa Rica Resort. These folks were from various walks of life and a variety of ages but they collectively experienced about every type of activity that was offered in the region. Of course, we pampered them with a brand new fabulous resort.

There were both quiet and active pools with sun shades over the loungers, many restaurants ranging from Asian to Italian food, bars everywhere, on-site activities and a wonderful Spa. The temperatures in the Guanacaste region range between 84 and about 92 degrees all year. During the months of May through November, you will see rain several times a week but it never lasts very long. While at the resort, everyone enjoyed the all-inclusive package that included all beverages including alcoholic, unlimited snacks and meals.

I arranged a variety of off-site activities for the group that included a group Sunset Catamaran Snorkel trip that was really incredible. We had an open bar and they served us a tasty lunch, played great music and entertained us throughout the trip. One of the crew even went snorkeling with us and brought up creatures for us to touch and hold including a live starfish, a porcupine fish and a purple octopus that my sister held in her hands. It was weird to watch the little suction cups grip her fingers when they pulled it off. CREEPY!! People floated around on noodles and totally enjoyed themselves while they bonded and chatted over adult beverages. Those beverages always seems to make people “chat” more. That works for me - it’s my job to make sure everyone is very happy during these escorted trips.

When the off-site activities started, people headed into the rainforest for zip lining, hot springs swimming, volcano viewing, horseback riding, surfing, ATV trips, white water rafting and hiking through the howler monkey infested trees. It was crazy!! Crazy - FUN!!

I don’t think I’ve ever had 46 people be so active each and every day. They had the biggest smiles on their faces and REALLY enjoyed themselves. They went WILD! The folks that remained at the resort filled their days with Spa activities, shopping, wonderful swimming and enjoying the breezes and sunshine of Costa Rica.

Additional activities that can be enjoyed are golf, rock climbing, diving, sightseeing and shopping for native crafts and pottery, historic touring, bird and animal watching. The creatures that climb the trees and walk through the rainforests of this country are wild looking. I can imagine the “birders” going nuts here with all the crazy colored birds to look at like the parrots and toucans.

Different times of the year lend to different experiences. This is where a travel agency like Travel Lovers can help you. If you want to go during Christmas time - book very early. It’s a “wildly” popular time to go for families. The wet season vs the dry season offer other options. The main point is that Costa Rica is an AWESOME destination and you can enjoy so many experiences and adventures here in a safe and friendly atmosphere. I’d go back tomorrow ad I’d like to thank Alan at TAM Travel in Liberia for helping book all these wonderful and wild activities for my group. I can’t wait to take another group to visit this area and I’m sure we’ll go WILD again in Costa Rica!

PURA VIDA

If you have any questions, contact Laura. I love to share!!

Wednesday’s Chat

Looking for some place to go? Below you will find the top 10 world destinations and the top 10 US destinations.  Take your pick, and let us send you away!

Top 10 World Destinations:

1.  Paris

2.  New York City

3.  London

4.  Rome

5.  Barcelona

6.  Venice

7.  San Francisco

8.  Florence

9.  Prague

10.  Sydney

Top 10 US Destinations:

1.  New York City

2.  San Francisco

3.  Chicago

4.  Las Vegas

5.  Orlando

6.  Washington D.C.

7.  Boston

8.  Los Angeles

9.  Honolulu

10.  New Orleans

We’ve got lots more ideas, so give us a call!

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