• What is wrong with traveling to Mexico?

    8/14/2013 5:13:53 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Recently, there have been a number of people asking about all inclusive vacations.  As many of you know, Riviera Maya in Mexico is a prime all inclusive destination.  All too often, the reaction to the idea is “I don’t want to do Mexico, It’s not safe.”  This is something I would like to address.  Mexico is safe.  Are there areas that are not safe?  Have we seen or heard terrible things on the news.  The simple answer is yes there are areas that are not safe.  My simple answer, are there sections of the United States that are not safe?  Yes of course.  So why do people still travel all over the U.S. but not Mexico?  People understand that crime in one city has nothing to do with crime in another.  Yet when we hear Mexico, we act like it’s a tiny place.  The reality is that most of the crime is taking place in places like Mexico City and along the Texas Mexico border.  These areas are many miles away.  It’s like saying I’m not going to Disney world because of the Boston bombings.  Absurd, yes, but we do it every day.

    The truth is that if you book a vacation with a reputable travel agent and make sure things like transfers are taken care of before you leave, you can have the vacation of your lives and be totally safe.  Are there going to be tons of people trying to “help” you at the airport, yes.  Are there going to be tons of people trying to sell you every piece of “high quality merchandise” imaginable, yes.  Is this different than any other Caribbean country?  No. 

    Go to the Mexican Riviera.  Enjoy the amazing resorts.  Your transportation will take you directly to your gated resort.  Have fun, eat, drink, and be Merry.  If you leave the resort, be smart and go on a tour booked from one of the tour operators in your hotel.   They are there to make money, but they want you to stay safe and be happy.  Use common sense and you could have the vacation of your lives.

  • All Aboard Vacations Announces Disney College of Knowledge graduate

    8/14/2013 3:43:46 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Don't be surprised if you see pixie dust twinkling around Shari Hough.  Hough, who is the owner of All Aboard vacations, joins an elite group of travel industry professionals who have attained a special knowledge of the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, and Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa.  As a recent graduate of the college of Disney Knowledge, Hough have now become part of this elite group.

    "The College of Disney Knowledge was extremely beneficial to me; it was a fun and informative way to learn more about the Disney vacation portfolio.  I also feel more confident about selling Disney destinations."

    Anyone who plans to visit Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, and Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa will benefit from Hough's added expertise.  "The college of Disney knowledge has taught me how to add more value to each Disney itinerary so that I can help make every client's magical dreams come true."

  • Is Customer Service Dead?

    8/14/2013 3:43:46 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

     

    I’ve heard many times that customer service is dead. We all make jokes about having to call customer no service in some strange foreign land multiple times before giving up and never resolving whatever issue we might have. It doesn’t matter if its travel related like an airline, or if it’s the cable company or anyone else. No one wants to accept the responsibility to help the consumer. Recently, I had a problem with the cable company. It took no less than 7 phone calls to customer service and a letter to the utilities commission before my simple request, a new cable box, could be arranged. 
     
                The same can be said for the airlines. Try to talk to a person, and good luck. Heaven forbid you have an emergency and need to change plans, you are going to pay. The price of a booked flight goes down and they will charge you to lower your fare. Fees, fees, and more fees, and its perfectly clear that the fees are not going to hire helpful well trained staff to assist the customer.
     
                I had a customer that recently had a problem at Disney World, the place that was once known for customer service and a true believer in the customer is always right slogan. Well it appears that times have changed. These people were a little upset about the time it took for their transfers to the hotel. Let’s just say that the Disney all but called my clients liars. I had a friend that ran into a very disrespectful employee that was complaining about tourists to other guests. Hello, this is Disney World, they make their money by charging TOURISTS ridiculous amounts of money to visit. In any rate, after filing a complaint, Disney World didn’t even make an attempt to respond. 
     
                So what can we do? First, document everything. This includes times, places, and names of everyone you speak to. Details are important. Second, be persistent. Third, and most importantly, use small businesses that care.
    All Aboard Vacations is one such place. We want your business, and no request is too small. One of the reasons to use a travel agent is to help fight on your behalf. Book with one of those mega websites and see how long it may take to even talk to a human let alone one who can help. Sure, you can book a cruise right through the cruise line, but try to complain about the cruise line to someone who works for a cruise line and see where you get. Book through an agency like this one and you will get a person who will do everything to help. We know who to talk to and will go out of our way to help so that you come back. We survive on personalized service.
     
    Customer service isn’t dead, you just need to know where to find it!
  • Vacations without the annoyance of flying!

    8/14/2013 3:43:46 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Lately, the airlines have been doing some crazy things. In the last few weeks several of them have gone out of business. Others are canceling direct flights making it much harder to get anywhere. We won’t even get into the prices and new luggage rules. I have a solution to all this. DON’T FLY. There are numerous cruises on several different lines that go all over the world year round from New York. I will only talk about New York since that is where I live. Recently, we went on the Norwegian Spirit. It is a beautiful ship that was offering six day trips. We had a great time on board and while its not the best cruise ever, it was a chance to get away. Best part was that we didn’t have to fly or pay for parking. I say save yourself the money get a friend to drive you to the pier. New York is an easy facility to navigate. Buy your friend dinner and save the $20+ for parking or hundreds of dollars for flying where you also have to pay to park. Princess, Carnival, RCCL, and Holland America also offer cruises out of the New York metro area going anywhere from Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada, and even Europe. Spend the Money on your vacation and not getting to your vacation. If you need some assistance with the planning give us a call. 203-592-2372

  • Agent Receives CLIA's ACC Designation

    8/14/2013 3:43:46 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Shari Hough of All Aboard Vacations has been designated as a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Cruise Counselor after recently completing the organization’s certification requirements. Shari Hough is now recognized within the cruise industry as an Accredited Cruise Counselor. Shari Hough has achieved Cruise Counselor Certification through the competition of a comprehensive program of cruise sales training and the product instruction, delivered through a combination of extensive classroom training and personal cruise experience. CLIA’s Certification program graduates are widely recognized as the foremost cruise vacation experts among American travel agents. All Aboard Vacations is one of more than 16,000 North American travel agency members of CLIA. According to CLIA statistics, the overwhelming majority of travelers – about 90% - book their cruise through a travel agency, and for good reason – travel agents understand the products they recommend and excel in the finding the perfect cruise to match their clients’ needs, lifestyle and budget. CLIA’s Certified Cruise Counselors are the cruise industry’s premiere travel agents and can arrange all of you vacation needs while providing the greatest service and value for your vacation dollar. To contact Shari Hough for your next cruise vacation or and other vacation needs please call 203-592-2372 or visit our webpage at www.allaboard-vacations.com.

  • Is Las Vegas still the cheap vacation?

    8/14/2013 3:43:46 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    It used to be that Vegas was a place that you could go for a cheap vacation. Because the casinos wanted you to spend money on gambling, you could get cheap food, cheap rooms, and cheap shows. For the most part, this is no longer true. Hotels are fancier, the food is fancier, and the shows are bigger. Is there still a way to do Vegas on the cheap? The short answer is yes, the longer answer is still yes, but you have to look for the deals. For one, go during the week. Your room on Monday to Thursday nights might be a third of what it can be on the weekend. Not to mention, Vegas is not as crowded during the week. Next, do your homework, read up online at www.vegas.com. There is a wealth of information about restaurants entertainment etc… Make sure you look at the free attractions guides and don’t forget that the casinos themselves, the shops, the lobbies themselves are free attractions. Next, unless you are going at a popular time or you are dying to see a certain show, make no dinner reservations and buy no show tickets. There are places on the strip, at coca-cola world and fashion square mall where you can get half price shows and half price dinners. The best part of the dinners is that you pay like $3 a person for the half price coupon and then the dinner entrees or buffets, etc… are half off. On a recent trip we saved over $20 alone on dinner. Now for show tickets, you can get reduced prices on many shows at these places. The problem is that the discounts are often off of the highest price tickets. Most of us don’t really need to sit in the front row for $90 which is a deal compared to the actual front row price. My solution, go to the box office and ask for the cheapest seats. So what if you are sitting in the back. Most of the theaters do not have a bad seat. Not to mention these theaters are not the cramped Broadway spaces those of us from NY are used to. Your seat will be roomy and comfortable in almost any show. Its nice not having to sit on your neighbor’s lap. Finally, walk around and read signs and read menus. Almost every restaurant has a posted menu. Reading them not only provides entertainment you can make a list of places that sound good that are not super expensive. We saw prices for food as high as $385 per person for a tasting menu of food I would not eat on a bet to 7.95 Prime rib diners. There is also a range of everything in between. In general, avoid those fancy celebrity chef restaurants or the ones with signs with diamond awards on them. Over rated and over priced. Most of us do not even know what some of the courses are. I love to eat and even I needed a dictionary to figure out what some of the food choices are. I’ll give you a hint, if food involves a dictionary, most of us don’t want to eat it. In many cases, there are other restaurants in the same hotels that do not have fancy chefs that offer good food at reasonable prices. We saw cheap Italian at the Venetian, cheap steak at NY NY, and other great specials. If you do want to eat at those famous restaurants, either go for lunch or eat at the café version of the restaurants. Wolfgang puck, Mario Batali, Emeril, and others have small café style restaurants attached to their big fancy expensive restaurants. These places offer the same great service, amazing food that normal people would eat, and reasonable prices. In closing, Vegas may not be the same cheap getaway you used to hear about, but you can have a great time on a reasonable budget if you do your homework.

  • Ship Within a Ship

    8/14/2013 3:43:46 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Many people think that travel agents are able to jet set around the world going from vacation to vacation for little or no money. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although we do get some benefit, it usually does not amount to a free vacation by any means. Once is a while we do get to enjoy something unique to people in the travel industry. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour the NCL Gem. This ship is beautiful, with numerous restaurants, Nintendo Wii, and four lanes of real life bowling. Those things are all great, but that is not what I want to talk about today. NCL created something called ship within a ship. Basically it is ultimate luxury about a large cruise ship for those who can afford it. Let’s start with the fact that if you book an upper level suite known as garden villas or courtyard villas, the cruise line will send a limo to pick you up. You are then escorted past all the other people waiting to get on board. Your butler takes you on board with your own elevator and takes you up the 14th floor. If you haven’t spent the big bucks, don’t even bother trying to get up here. You walk off the elevator and are instantly transported to ultimate luxury, where you walk into a courtyard with a pool, nice tables, butlers, and entrances to your own suite. Want to go for a dip, no problem, there is your own pool which at most may see 50 people use it. Want to go for a sauna, that’s there too, or an exercise bike. I suggest asking your butler to do the exercise for you; you’re on vacation for goodness sake. Oh did I mention that the courtyard is covered by a retractable roof. Rain and cold will not spoil your fun. Want to spend some time in the sun, go up the stairs to the private sun deck where you will find lounge chairs with large cushions or lay in one of the huge hammocks. The rooms are just as nice. There are a couple of different villas at this level. Some hold as many as 5 people others just 2. Each one is at least 500 square feet and the largest at 5000 square feet, yes 5 thousand square feet. That’s like my house, my parent’s house and my in-law’s house all in a couple of huge rooms, complete with couches, a grand piano, a fully stocked bar with a cappuccino machine. Sit on your huge private balcony or swim in your own Jacuzzi in case 50 people in the courtyard is way too crowded for your taste. You also have your concierge that can make dinner reservations for you or anything else you may be able to dream up. This is all fine and good if you like that sort of ultimate luxury. It only costs a little over $4000 a person, which some may say is a bargain. As for me, I think it’s a little fancy for my tastes. I’ll stick to my lovely 150 square foot inside cabin where the only sign of daylight is the picture on the TV! Check out http://www.nclsuitesandvillas.com/ to see crazy video and pictures, although they don’t really do it justice.