Monday, November 14, 2011

Oceania Mediterranean Cruise

   Just returned from an Oceania Mediterranean Cruise.  What a great vacation.  The selection of ports was fantastic.  We only had to tender into one port.  The schedule was such that we arrived early and sailed late.  This gave us time to tour, sightsee on our own and shop without feeling rushed.  In Monte Carlo, many people went back at night to see the town lit up like a Christmas tree.  The food was amazing and Oceania offers a wide selection including vegetarian and Canyon Ranch spa cuisine selections.  We also dined at the 2 specialty restaurants without paying any surcharge.  In fact there were no surcharges for a lot of extras such as cappuccinos, lattes, sodas or bottled waters to take on our sightseeing excursions.  We also avoided the overcrowded port syndrome.  Because Oceania ships carry fewer passengers than the large cruise lines, and because we arrived early in the day, before other cruise ships, there were not as many cruise passengers touring each port as sometimes happens.  And did I mention its all country club casual.  No need for fancy clothes or dinner jackets.
 
   We have some great specials with Oceania for 2012 including a 10 day cruise on the brand new Riviera in August with free airfare, free pre-hotel stay, free gratuities and shipboard credit.  Call me at 800-622-3533 or email francine@travelharmony.com for more information or to receive a brochure or DVD.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In 2012 Austria will celebrate the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt

Klimt and the Birth of Modernism in Vienna

In 2012 one of Austria's greatest painters would have celebrated his 150th birthday: Gustav Klimt (1862–1918). His paintings, in particular The Kiss – one of the world's best-known images – are rightly seen as epitomizing the spirit of optimism that heralded the dawn of the modernist era.
Painting by Gustav Klimt: The Kiss
The Kiss, 1907/08
Beethoven Frieze by Gustav KlimtBeethoven Frieze (cut-out), 1902
Portrait of Fritza Riedler, 1906Fritza Riedler, 1906
Tea service by Josef Hoffmann, Wiener Werkst├Ątte, 1903
High culture of all genres gravitated towards Vienna at around 1900. Exciting and pioneering discoveries were being made in the world of literature, visual arts, architecture and music with an intensity hardly seen elsewhere. In 1910 Vienna had a population of two million, making it the world's fifth largest city and the uncontested cultural capital of Central Europe. Gustav Klimt's pictures reflect the artistic and scientific discoveries and developments that shaped the period. His oeuvre charts the course from the Ringstrasse era to the early days of abstraction: influenced by Hans Makart, the defining Viennese painter of the late 19th century, Klimt, his brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch accepted a number of commissions to decorate buildings on Vienna's showpiece Ringstrasse boulevard. The staircases of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Burgtheater are two outstanding examples of their work. Klimt's creative output and the style he developed in later years paved the way for his younger contemporaries, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

To make your travel plans, contact Travel Harmony.  We offer a variety of planned tours and independent programs to fit every budget.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cruise the Mediterranean in 2012 aboard the Oceania Marina


We invite you to take advantage of this Travel Harmony Exclusive:

Free Air, 2 for 1 pricing, Gratuities included, Free Hotel; shipboard Credit

Aboard Oceania Cruises' New Riviera

Visit Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Portofino, Saint Tropez and more

Fine dining under the direction of Master Chef Jacques Pepin

Open Seating; Variety of venues; no charges for specialty restaurants


We sail August 23, 2012.  Call today. You don’t want to miss the boat!

800-622-3533 or 703-726-6346

  








 


Sunday, May 8, 2011

TRAVEL AGENT'S - BETTER THAN EVER

SEE THE SUNDAY WASHINGTON POST TRAVEL SECTION.  Today Nancy Trejos talks about the return of the Travel Agent.  When the airlines stopped paying commission, travel agents suddenly found themselves struggling to survive.  According to Nancy Trejos, of the Washington Post, they had to "change their modus operandi."   It was either that, or close their doors.  Nancy quotes ARC in stating there wre 37,981 travel agencies in 2001 and only16,564 ARC agencies as of this March. 

Of course, that is not the entire story.  Many of today's successful agencies are home based according to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).   These agencies do not issue individual airline tickets but provide airline services in connection with tour and cruise arrangements.  They would not belong to ARC.  The truth is, today's consumers are seeking more than just a ticketing agent.  They want a professional who can offer them advice about a complete range of topics from what to see and do, where to find great restaurants how to get a good deal on a hotel room, and where they can find a great guide who will show them the things the average tourist never sees.  To read the complete article go to:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/travelers-turn-back-to-travel-agents/2011/04/25/AFZcLM8F_story.html

Travel Agents are not for everyone.  Some people like to build their own houses and fix their own cars.  Others prefer to plan their own trips.  For those who appreciate service, a Travel Agent is always there for you.

For More information on using the services of a travel agent, refer to my March 16 Article "Why You Need A Travel Agent".

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taking the Grandkids on Vacation

Every summer Grandparents around the country decide to take their grandchildren on vacation.  Cruises are always a popular vacation.  Lots and lots of activities for children of all ages.  Beaches resorts in the Caribbean cater to familes with children.  These resorts offer supervised kids programs for five different age levels. Here dining becomes a celebration, with up to 10 specialty restaurants per resort.  Leave your wallet at home, but bring your appetite, because it's all included from the non-motorized activities to the food and drink. They even include the gratuities. 

For the little ones there are nannies and Sesame Street Characters.  For the older kids there's XBox and Pirates Island.  Your teenagers will find a teens-only Beach Shack. Or they can hang at Trench Town with everything from hoops to football. And, just like you'd expect in the Caribbean, there are non-stop reggae jams to keep them moving with the beat and a teen night club.  Visit http://travelharmony.com/caribbean.html 
Scroll down and click on Beaches.  Or give us a call.

Intercontinental Bora Bora Le Moana receives Earthcheck Silver Certification

http://www.facebook.com/AustraliaNewZealandTravel

LENS ON AUSTRALIA

See Why We Say "There is Nothing Like Australia":  http://lensonaustralia.viotv.com/

A New Queen of the Mississippi coming

American Cruise Lines will call its new Mississippi paddlewheeler the Queen of the Mississippi.

The 140-passenger riverboat is under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp. in Salisbury, Md. 

Charles Robertson, American Cruise Lines president, says the company will take Mississippi steamboating "to the next level."

Queen of the Mississippi renderingAmerican Cruise Lines intends to "meticulously blend" the historic appeal of riverboats with modern standards and amenitied, said Timothy Beebe, vice president.

The dining salon will have the capacity to "generously seat" all passengers and will have "crystal chandeliers and fine works of art that will far surpass the ambience of past riverboats," said the line.

The Paddlewheel Lounge will feature rich wood and offer panoramic views of the passing scenery and the large red paddlewheel at the stern.

American Cruise Lines said "oversized staterooms" will be larger than those of all former Mississippi riverboats. Staterooms will have private balconies.

The Queen of the Mississippi will cruise the entire Mississippi River system, with the option of cruising at significantly higher speeds to make more itineraries possible with longer visits to river towns.

Seven-night cruises are planned that take passengers as far as St. Paul, Minn., on the Mississippi River and Pittsburgh on the Ohio River.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SEEKING A NEW AND UNUSAL DESTINATION?

How about this:  Island hopping in the Indian Ocean; sunbathing in Mauritius, wellness in the Seychelles, hiking in La Reunion, nature experience in Madagascar shall soon be easily arranged. The tourism Authorities of the four islands have developed a new destination concept and position themselves now together with the label; ‘Iles Vanille’ or Vanilla Islands named for the Vanilla grow on all these islands.



For more information on this new "hot spot", give us a call or send an email to francine@travelharmony.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Save Time, Save Money: Use a Travel Agent

Alexandria, Va., March 31, 2011 - There's no end to the choices people have today, whether it's where to shop, what to buy and especially where to travel, but one of the most important choices a person can make is the decision to use a travel agent when planning their next vacation.
"Gone are the days when a travel agent just got you from Point A to Point B. Today's agent is a travel counselor skilled at not only providing their clients with their dream vacations but at giving them great value for their money. They are experts at navigating the Internet, and act as advocates on their clients' behalf in the event something goes wrong, such as a natural disaster or political unrest," ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo said. "Travel agents understand that travel planning isn't just about places, it's about people."
Here are just a few reasons to use a professional travel agent:

  • Customer advocacy: If you have a problem with a particular part of your travel experience, the agent is there to act on your behalf to see that restitution is made. ASTA, for example, is the only travel industry association aggressively fighting to improve the travel experience, and air transportation in particular, for all consumers, not just those with access to the Internet.
  • Expert guidance: Travel agents, unlike instructions on a Web page, are experts in understanding and deciphering the myriad travel information and codes out there. It's what they've been trained to do and they do it every day.
  • Personalized service: Instead of an impersonal voice thousands of miles away, travel agents are your neighbors. They know what you want and what you value in your travel experience.
  • Professional advice: Travel agents are there to make sure you get where you want to go, when you want to go and for the lowest price.
  • Time: Instead of checking a long list of travel Web pages, which only provide rates and fares for the companies that have contracted with them, why not go straight to the source? A travel agent has all the information at their fingertips, saving you a few hours in front of a computer screen or on hold.
  • Unbiased information: Agents work for their clients, not for a travel supplier. It makes sense that a happy customer will be a repeat customer.
Every travel agency is different and accordingly, some are better suited to a given consumer than others. Here are some tips provided by ASTA on choosing a travel agent who is right for you:


  • Go with the Pros: Look for the ASTA label. Through its continuing education and training programs, ASTA prepares its members to operate high-caliber, competitive businesses.
  • Ask Around: Tap friends, neighbors and relatives who use an agent they trust. You may want to visit or call several agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the agent's willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale.
  • Ask about Fees: Good agents will notify their clients of any additional fees, including service fees, up front. Doing otherwise is pointless, as the fee will appear as a separate charge on the client's credit card bill.
  • Check Credentials: Many agents have been trained in business management, travel and tourism or geography. Others have supplemented their agency experience with extensive education and training courses. Some travel agents are Certified Travel Counselors (CTC) through the Travel Institute or Master Cruise Counselors (MCC) through the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
  • Find out an Agency's Track Record: Visit ASTA.org to see whether a member agency has had a complaint against it in the prior six months. Check with the local Better Business Bureau, while keeping in mind they will only have records of agencies that have had reports filed against them.


Find a professional travel consultant who can help make your cruise vacation an unforgettable experience at TravelSense.org's Find a Travel Agent' search directory, or request a free trip quote online.
ABOUT ASTA
ASTA's (American Society of Travel Agents) mission is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable, growing and a rewarding place to work, invest and do business.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Travel Tips Quarterly From Your Trusted Travel Advisor

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.  Visit us on Facebook for our latest Travel Tips.  Or send us an email to be added to our email and/or mailing list. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sydney and Istanbul make Top Ten Hot Spot List for First Time

ASTA’s 2011 “Hot Spots for Summer” survey found that London, Rome, Paris and Cancun remained the top four choices for Americans for the eighth consecutive year. The survey, which asked ASTA travel agents what destinations were hot for this summer season, found that Western European destinations are the most popular overall with six cities in the top 10.





Rounding out the top 10 city hot spots were Punta Cana, Dublin, Barcelona, Venice, Sydney and Istanbul. This year was the first time that Sydney and Istanbul have joined the top 10. Last year, Istanbul hosted ASTA’s International Destination Expo, which brought more than 1,200 travel professionals together to learn about the culture, attractions and travel business of Turkey and its neighboring countries.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

When to Purchase Your Airline Ticket

In this Washington Post article by Christopher Elliott, National georgraphic Traveler magazine's reader advocate, he explains what is going on in the airline insustry today.  Between rising oil prices and diminished seat capacity, it is not that easy to spot a bargain - or even recognize a bargain when you see one.  In the past couple of weeks I have had client fare increase between $50 and $100 with no warning.

If you are planning to vacation this summer, read this article: 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/the-navigator-stop-obsessing-over-airfares-and-buy-now/2011/03/10/ABHBtTl_story.html

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why You Need A Travel Agent

Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming. A travel agent not only arranges the various modes of transportation, but a travel agent also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, hotel deals and travel advisories. Don't take our word for it. See what the president of Crystal Cruises has to say about using a travel agent.

Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

Save Money! - Strong working relationships with travel suppliers and the latest in computer reservations technology enable travel agents to access the most up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.

Traveler Advocates - Your best interests are the priority. ASTA (The American Society of Travel Agents) has a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights and ASTA member travel agents are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

Convenience - The ASTA membership includes travel agents across the country and throughout the world, most of which offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.

Service - ASTA member travel agents are knowledgeable and active in the industry. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools to offer the highest quality of service.

Agents Will Go the Extra Mile - Agents work for you and will do everything they can to meet your travel needs. Some agents literally go that extra mile to help their clients. One ASTA-member agent even went to Ethiopia to escort two adopted orphans to the US.






http://www.travelsense.org/tips/whyuseanagent.cfm#letter

Friday, March 4, 2011

Australia on the Amazing Race Sunday March 6

Be sure to watch The Amazing Race this Sunday on CBS.

Last week all contestants were racing in the regional township of Broken Hill. In this week’s episode, not to give anything away, they travel back to Sydney on board a certain train - the mighty Indian Pacific!!

We are not sure how much footage of the train they are going to show but if you are interested in visiting Australia and like train travel you may also wish to watch!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WHY VISIT AUSTRALIA?

Australia is the world's largest island, the earth's oldest continent, and a land of awe inspiring beauty. It offers something for everyone.

Try surfing on the East Coast, diving on the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sailing in the Whitsundays, camping and rock climbing in Kakadu, hiking in Tasmania, or hot air ballooning over the MacDonnell ranges in Northern Territory.

You might prefer to feed the wild dolphins at Tangalooma, sleep in a Treehouse in the Rainforest, sleep in a tented camp at Ayers Rock, try Jungle Surfing in the Daintree Rainforest, or go animal spotting after sunset in the Outback.

Or you may prefer to stay in 5 star luxury, sample gourmet dining and outstanding wines, attend a performance at the Oprah House, and a sporting match in Melbourne, and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the Great Ocean Road.

Whatever your interest, Australia has something for you. Why not take advantage of the great rates being offered at the moment and plan your next visit to Australia.