Monday, August 5, 2013

This was officially issued August 2, 2013:
State Department Issues Worldwide Alert

The United States Department of State has issued a worldwide travel alert. You will likely see references to it in news media. We have set out the key text of the alert below. The alert does not mean that Americans should not travel during August. It does mean that everyone traveling should follow the advice in the alert. You may wish to counsel your clients accordingly. Here are the relevant parts of the alert:

‘The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling…

We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.

In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).
NOTE:  I have registered my upcoming trips out of the U.S. with the Department of State's STEP program.  ~~ LeAnne


Friday, August 2, 2013

Dreaming of Staying in Tuscany??
Join our 2014 escorted group tour sponsored by Burleson County Chamber of Commerce (Caldwell, TX), Collette Vacations, and Cricket Cruise & Travel, LLC:

April 29 - May 8, 2014 (10 days)
After an overnight flight from Houston, TX to Rome, Italy, our tour begins in Rome with an overnight stay at the Crowne Plaza St. Peter's Rome Hotel.  The tour will meander north into the Tuscany region for 6 days staying at the Hotel Ercolini and Savi in Montecatini, Italy.

Once the tour departs Rome, we will travel north to the medieval walled city of Assisi, the birthplace of the patron saint of Italy, St. Francis.  You will tour the Basilica of St. Francis and the historic old city.  Later you will end the day in the famous spa resort town of Montecatini Terme -- your "home" for the next 6 days.

Montecatini Terme, Italy

The following day, the tour will head to the Gothic town of Siena, one of Italy's most beautiful cities with stunning palaces, mansions and the historic Piazza del Campo.  There's a breathtaking view of Siena and the Tuscan countryside at the top of the Torre Del Mangia.

Day 5 will be spent in the picturesque medieval hilltop village of San Gimignano.  It's famous for its 14 towers and magnificent vistas overlooking the vineyards of Tuscany. 
San Gimignano, Italy
Chianti (wine) region near Florence

Day 6 will have the group taking a cultural tour in the "Cradle of the Italian Renaissance" -- Florence.  The city has priceless Florentine treasures, such as the Academy Gallery which houses Michelangelo's statue of David.  The tour will take the group to the Piazza del Duomo (the center of religious life in medieval Florence), and the Cathedral of Santa Marie del Fiore and the impressive gilded bronze doors of the Baptistery dedicated to St. John.  There will be a Tuscan feast that night with traditional cuisine and wines while overlooking the Tuscan countryside. 

Ponte Vecchio (Florence, Italy)
((This is the ONLY bridge in Europe the Germans did NOT blow up during WWII.))

Day 7 is a day of leisure for the group.  You may choose optional tours at very reasonable prices such as an excursion to Pisa and Lucca.  In Pisa you'll find the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Cathedral or "Duomo", its historic Baptistery and the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Another option is a journey to historic Lucca, one of the most charming old towns in Tuscany where you can explore gothic palaces and quaint shops.

Leaning Tower (Pisa, Italy)
Lucca, Italy
View of the entire tomb monument dedicated to Ilaria del Carretto, wife of the 15th century lord of Lucca, Paolo Guinigi. Ilaria died shortly after giving birth to her second child at the age of 26.
Lucca, Italy
View from the walls to the inside of the city onto the city's Botanical garden.

Day 8 the group will return to Florence.  There will be a traditional Italian leather making demonstration with a visit to the family-owned Pierotucci Leather Shop.  After that stop, we'll continue on to a special presentation on the history and workmanship of fine Florentine gold.  Afterwards, the group is at leisure to explore Florence:  visit a museum, have a Tuscan lunch, or shop for local crafts (Florence is VERY well known for its fine handcrafted leather goods).

On Day 9, the group will be leaving Montecatini to go back to Rome.  There will be an optional tour to Vatican City to visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica.  I highly, HIGHLY recommend this tour.  It's absolutely stunningly breathtaking -- you will NEVER forget the splendor and awe of it. 

Take a virtual tour of St. Peter's (click on the map's numbers):

There will be a farewell dinner that evening with Italian music to celebrate the end of a memorable trip to the unforgettable and beautiful region of Tuscany.

 There will be a SPECIAL TRAVEL PRESENTATION at the Burleson County Chamber of Commerce:

August 22, 2013
5:30 PM
301 N. Main St. (Caldwell, TX)

Rates INCLUDE "Hometown Roundtrip Transfers" (from Caldwell, TX to Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport [IAH]), roundtrip airfare from Houston (IAH) to Rome (FCO), all hotels, all scheduled tours, ground transportation, and most meals (8 breakfasts, 5 dinners). Optional guided tours are available at reasonable prices.

BOOK NOW rates have a $250 per person discount and are valid until October 29, 2013.
Space is limited to 20 guests.

Call LeAnne for information, brochures and to reserve your space on the tour:
 979-836-6600 or 713-446-4990


Sunday, June 30, 2013

   Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland                                                                             
Please Join
Washington County Chamber of Commerce
Cricket Cruise & Travel, LLC


... for a glorious 8-day escorted tour of Ireland

February 11-18, 2014

Can you think of a more romantic way to celebrate St. Valentine's Day?
Highlights of the tour:
  • Dublin
  • Guinness Storehouse
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Rock of Cashel
  • Blarney Castle
  • Blarney Woolen Mills
  • Killarney
  • Dingle Peninsula
  • Gap of Dunloe
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Ashford Castle
  • Whiskey Distillery
  • Local Pub Visit

  • Roundtrip Airfare from Houston to Dublin
  • Air Taxes and Fees/Surcharges
  • Ground Transportation
  • Hotels
  • All Tours as Scheduled
  • 9 Meals (6 Breakfasts, 3 Dinners)

    NOT Included:
  • Cancellation waiver & insurance ($175 per person)
  • Tour Guide & Driver's gratuities
$2549 per person (double occupancy)
$2849 per person (single)
$2519 per person (triple)
Prices increase $250 per person on August 12, 2013

We will be spending one night at Ashford Castle, built in 1228 and one of the top three castles in the world.  We will have a formal dinner that evening (coat and tie required for men).
CALL LEANNE at 979-836-6600
cell:  713-446-4990
Space is limited.
                                                  Cliffs of Moher

Sandy Feet

Friday, April 12, 2013

Princess Cruises Returns to Summer Caribbean Sailings
Three- to Seven-Day Sailings from Ft. Lauderdale Open for Sale Today

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (April 11, 2013) – For the first time in four years,
Princess Cruises will offer summertime Caribbean cruising from Florida in 2014. Caribbean Princess returns to sail on a full season of voyages ranging from a three-day getaway to full week-long tropical cruises, all of which can be combined for a longer vacation of up to 14 days. All summer Caribbean cruises open for sale today.
The May to September program features 12 departures of the line’s popular seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages, which can be combined for a 14-day Caribbean Adventure sailing. In addition, the ship will depart on 13 three-, four- and five-day getaway cruises for a quick vacation and opportunity to sample the Princess experience.
All cruises sail roundtrip from the convenient port of Ft. Lauderdale. Itineraries feature the ports of San Juan, St. Thomas, Costa Maya, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman, plus most voyages visit the line’s exclusive Bahaman paradise on Princess Cays.
“Summertime is prime vacation season and we’re happy to be back in the Caribbean next year,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “No matter how much time passengers have to get away, we’ve got the perfect voyage to help them escape completely.”
Caribbean cruise options for summer 2014 include:
Eastern Caribbean (7 days) – Passengers can enjoy a relaxing week in the Caribbean, including calls at the ports of Princess Cays, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk. Sailings depart May 31; June 14, 21; July 5, 12, 26; August 2 and 16.
Western Caribbean (7 days) – Alternating with the Eastern Caribbean voyages, this itinerary features calls at Princess Cays, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Caribbean Princess sets sail on this route on June 7, 28; July 19; and August 9.
Eastern Caribbean Getaway (5 days) – Both Princess Cays and Grand Turk are the featured ports on this getaway sailing, perfect for beach lovers. The ship departs on September 6 and 15.
Western Caribbean Getaway (5 days) – Passengers can enjoy days in Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and the island of Cozumel. Caribbean Princess sails on May 26; August 23; September 1, 20, and 29.
Eastern Caribbean Getaway (4 days) – Featuring a call at Grand Turk or Princess Cays, Caribbean Princess will offer these getaway sailings on May 15; August 28, and September 25.
Western Caribbean Getaway (4 days) – On this getaway voyage, Caribbean Princess will visit Mexico’s island of Cozumel, perfect for a beach day or a chance to see the country’s spectacular Mayan ruins. Cruises depart on May 19 and September 11.
Eastern Caribbean Getaway (3 days) – This special sailing offers a quick getaway especially for the Memorial Day weekend. Passengers will enjoy a day at Princess Cays, the line’s private beach in the Bahamas. Caribbean Princess will depart on May 23, 2014.
About Princess Cruises:
One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 16 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service. Two ships are under construction and will join the fleet in 2013 and 2014. A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess carries 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from three to 107 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE:CCL; NYSE:CUK).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Italian cruise line MSC Cruises will position its first ship in North America year-round, beginning this fall.

The not quite year-old, 3,502-passenger MSC Divina will offer year-round Caribbean cruises out of Miami starting in November.

The Italian cruise line has long been talking about basing a cruise ship year-round in the USA. For the last eight years, MSC has offered seasonal late fall and winter sailings from North America. It says it made the decision to finally commit to an extended presence here based on the "requests of the travel agency community and consumers for a year-round presence in the North American market."

MSC made the announcement during the naming ceremony for the line's twelfth ship, the MSC Preziosa, in Genoa, Italy, this past Saturday. The Preziosa is sister ship to the Divina.

MSC has built 10 new cruise ships since 2003, with about one new vessel entering its fleet every year, the cruise industry's most aggressive expansion program.

PHOTO GALLERY: Tour the MSC Fantasia

MSC said the Divina's itineraries would be announced shortly. The vessel, named by film star Sophia Loren, has seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools, a bowling alley and MSC's ship-within-a-ship, the MSC Yacht Club, a luxury section of the vessel offering 69 suites with butler and concierge service, complimentary select beverages, private access to spa and a private dining room.

USA TODAY, 3:40p.m. EDT, March 27, 2013:  This item was written by Johanna Jainchill, who covers the travel industry for Travel Weekly. Jainchill is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beginning with our 2013 Europe season, all voyages include:
NEW Complimentary AzAmazing EveningsSM event on every
voyage (we kindly request you book online prior to voyage)
NEW Select standard spirits, international beers and wines available throughout your voyage

Azamara Club Cruises is a proud member of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. family of cruise lines.
Call LEANNE for terms, conditions, pricing & availability:  979-836-6600
"You'll LOVE where we take you"

Friday, February 8, 2013

Greetings from Ireland,
This week we have had a sample of almost every season & climate! We went from wind and rain, to snow yesterday, and the sun is shining this morning!
There are many things Ireland is famous for, St. Patrick's Day, Guinness; but there are some things you may not know about our Emerald Isle.
Here are some interesting & fun facts about many do you already know?
Happy reading!
Ireland is a lot more than the "Island of Saints and Scholars." Today, this little island is associated with A-list Hollywood actors, world-class pop rock musicians, top authors, Guinness, some of the world's most stunning scenery. We've even staked a claim to the White House! Read on for more...
Famous symbols of Ireland...
The harp, also known as the national symbol of Ireland, the Celtic cross, the shamrock and the Irish wolfhound are all well known Irish symbols.
According to Census 2011, most of the Irish population identifies themselves as Roman Catholic (84%).
National language...
Ireland's national language is Irish, but it is spoken as the everyday language only in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) regions - chiefly in Galway, Kerry, Cork, Mayo, Donegal, and Waterford. In all other parts of Ireland, English is the spoken language.
Ireland's most famous musical export is U2. Other acts that have achieved international success include The Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy and more recently Boyzone, Westlife and Damien Rice.
Hollywood factor...
The cream of the crop includes Michael Fassbender, Pierce Brosnan, Cillian Murphy and Colin Farrell.
The world of literature...
The list of Irish writers goes on and on, with each generation producing several new word wizards. A sample includes James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, William Trevor, John McGahern, and Emma Donohue.
Patron Saint...
Saint Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland in around 430. St Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland, and indeed all over the world, on March 17th.
Our capital - Dublin...
Dublin was founded by the Vikings in 988 and was originally called Dubh Linn (which means Black Pool in Irish).
First Saint Patrick's Day parade...
Boston was the proud host with an event organised by the Charitable Irish Society in 1737.
The White House...
James Hoban, a Kilkenny born architect, won a competition to design the original White House.
Famous outlaws...
Grace O'Malley (Queen of the Pirates) operated off the west coast of Ireland and Ned Kelly (son of an Irish convict) was an infamous Australian outlaw.
Highest mountain...
Killarney, County Kerry is home to the highest mountain - Carrantouhill, part of the mountain range the McGillycuddy Reeks.
Longest river...
The river Shannon rises in County Cavan and is approximately 240 miles long. It contains 3 lakes, Lough Allen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg.
Irish delicacies...
Drisheen is a type of pudding made from cow's, pigs or sheeps blood. White pudding is a mixture of pork, cereal, bread, fat and suet. Periwinkles are sea snails boiled in salted water.
No trip to Ireland would be complete without sampling a pint of the black stuff! It's said that no matter where you go in the world, only in Ireland will you be served the most velvety, and creamiest pint of Guinness.
Bailey's Irish Cream...
Invented in the 1970s, this hugely popular liquor, composed of is added to everything from coffee to cheesecake.
Irish pubs...
Stumble upon a "trad night", throw in the customary singsong, a bit of Irish dancing and you're in for an evening of craic!
A sporting nation...
Irish people are very passionate about Gaelic games - football, hurling, handball and camogie. Rugby and soccer are also very well supported in Ireland. Golfing stars from the island include former World Number One Rory McIlroy and U.S. PGA champion Padraig Harrington. Among Ireland's athletic stars are Dervla O'Rourke, and Katie Taylor is an international boxing champion.
The great outdoors...
The Cavan Way, The Dingle Way and the Kerry Way are just some of the country's scenic walking routes that offer a great opportunity to sample Ireland's breathtaking countryside.
Sense of humour...
There's nothing like the Irish sense of humour, wit and play with words. Have a look at the below examples:
"not backwards in coming forwards" - means a person is not shy.
"no flies on him" - means a person is not easily deceived.
"she has a tongue that would clip a hedge" - means a person who gossips.
"come for a day and stay for a week" - means someone outstaying their welcome.
Just a few facts to ponder over - for a small island we certainly have a lot going for us!

Your friend in Ireland,
Alitalia's update for the winter storm!
February 8, 2013

Winter Storm Nemo – Update #2

Dear Travel Partners,

With nearly 4,000 cancelled flights thus far and thousands of our mutual clients impacted, I am sure you are experiencing challenges, as are we, to manage the volume of calls and questions. First, let me express my thanks for your patience as we work to accommodate our guests trying to get to their holiday, as well as work to get guests home who are currently vacationing in a Club Med resort but without a return flight home. The updates below are as of 11am eastern time and are based on the best available information we have from our airline partners.

Guests scheduled to travel to Ixtapa tomorrow on our charter
Aeromexico continues to work with the team at JFK, including the local Port Authority, to determine the status of flight operations tomorrow afternoon. At this time we have been advised of a delay of 4 hours and 40 minutes to the scheduled 8am flight operation. The weather forecasts in the New York are have been the most variable creating the most uncertainty. Further delays are possible and we expect to have more definitive information this afternoon. In the meantime, if your clients would prefer to reschedule their holiday and depart on our February 16th or March 30th charter, we are happy to make that change for them with no added cost. Space is limited, so we recommend contacting our reservation team right away to make this change.

Currently most airlines are allowing revisions to commence travel by February 12th. We are working within the airline policies to revise any guests whose flight has been cancelled. If a flight is cancelled due to winter storm Nemo, our guests are covered under our basic travel insurance policy, which is included as a benefit of their membership. Should they be unable to travel, we would advise them to contact CSA Travel Insurance for details on their policy and coverage.

We will continue to work with guests impacted by travel interruptions. We understand that this is sometimes time consuming and frustrating, so we thank you in advance for your patience and assistance. Please know we are making every effort to accommodate our mutual customers. As we are approaching the peak Presidents' Week travel period, our resorts are near full capacity and we will do our very best to offer any available options to your clients.

Guests currently traveling
Should guests be unable to depart our resort as scheduled due to flight cancellations, we are pleased to provide the following options for our guests to ensure their comfort during these travel delays:
- Guests who booked an air inclusive package with us may remain at the resort free of charge. During this time, guests will have access to all of our inclusive services and amenities.
- Guests who booked only their land stay with us will be able to remain at the resort for a nightly rate equivalent to 50% of our local nightly rate to be paid directly at the resort.

We will continue to closely monitor winter storm Nemo over the coming days and will provide you with the most up-to-date information as we have.

Thank you for your continued support of Club Med.

Best regards,

Patrick J. Mitchell
Vice President of Sales
Club Med Sales, US