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This week, Ticket To Travel named Francisco Montoya, Business Development Manager with Blue Sky Tours, Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations and United Vacations (The Mark Travel Corporation) as our 2013 Business Development Manager of the Year!

Francisco was acknowledged for his continued support, outstanding partnership and commitment to our agency’s growth and falling under the Ticket To Travel credo “Relationships Matter”.

Francisco with the plaque

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100% Off! Sale” on select 3- and 4-day roundtrip Los Angeles, Princess Getaway cruises.  Book with me a qualifying voyage by October 31 and get 100% of your cruise fare back as a credit on a future 7-Day Princess cruise departing in 2013 or 2014.  

Qualifying voyages on Golden Princess: 

  1. 3-day, Monday, October 21, 2013 departure with Ensenada
  2. 4-day, Thursday, October 24, 2013 departure with Santa Barbara and Ensenada
  3. 4-day, Monday, October 28, 2013 departure with San Diego and Ensenada
  4. 3-day, Friday, November 1, 2013 departure with Ensenada
  5. 3-day, Monday, November 4, 2013 departure with Ensenada

So pull out that credit card, call me, gather your family & friends and get sailing!!!

Call me at (650) 906-6000 or e-mail me at lauren@aticket2travel.com, to get you booked TODAY!

Well, Disney Cruiseline just announced their itinerary line-up for 2012 and (drum roll, please) it includes three new homeports – New York, Seattle and Galveston!  Now, a Disney cruise is even more convenient for you, as you can depart for your dream vacation from your backyard.

From New York…
Beginning May 25, 2012, the Disney Magic will sail 20 cruises from New York – with three unique and varied itineraries.

  • Eight-night Bahamas cruises that include a day at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay; Nassau, Bahamas; and a stop at Port Canaveral, Florida, giving guests an opportunity to visit the nearby Walt Disney World Resort.  As part of this itinerary, you’ll receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and roundtrip transportation between the port and resort.
  • Five-night cruises up the New England coast that will call at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick. In these popular Canadian ports, you can soak in splendid natural vistas, explore historic sites, visit quaint cafés and charming shops and browse Canada’s oldest farmer’s market.
  • Three two-night cruises (June 15, July 13 and August 10) that are perfect for families looking for a quick getaway and a sampling of the Disney Cruise Line experience with a day at sea over a weekend.

From Seattle…
Beginning May 28, 2012, the Disney Wonder will sail another season of Alaskan cruises including seven-night voyages from the Port of Seattle to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia.

These cruises will combine the natural wonder and adventurous spirit of Alaska with the unparalleled, family-friendly experience found on a Disney Cruise Line ship. Disney works closely with Alaskan tour operators to create exclusive Port Adventures that allow you to enjoy Alaska’s natural beauty, rich history and abundant wildlife.

From Galveston…
Beginning September 22, 2012, the Disney Magic will sail seven-night cruises from Galveston to the Western Caribbean. Ports of call include Grand Cayman and Mexico’s Costa Maya and Cozumel.

On this cruise, your family can enjoy a tropical getaway with world-class entertainment and impeccable guest service found only on a Disney Cruise Line vacation. You’ll have three magical days at sea to explore all of the fun aboard the Disney Magic and three days in port to lounge on warm, golden beaches, to swim and snorkel in azure waters or to shop to your heart’s content in exotic marketplaces.

If you want to secure your spot on one of these exciting new itineraries, bookings for 2012 open April 8, 2011, by contacting me at (650) 906-6000 or lauren@aticket2travel.com

Which itinerary are you most excited for?

No offense to the Howard Johnson’s Hotel Chain (well, maybe a little…)

I’ve held off on posting this blog entry in regards to my cruise on the Carnival Elation last March.  However, I just can’t hold back any longer!  I must spill the beans; get it off my chest, etc…

First off – I PROMISE TO NEVER BOOK ANY OF YOU, MY DEAR, DEAR CLIENTS, ON THIS SHIP!!!  The good news for us West Coasters, she has left us for her new homeport of Mobile, Alabama.  So sorry for all ya’ll Southerners.

It started out great, since the ship was leaving from San Diego for a 6 night cruise to Cabo San Lucas for a 2 day stay and a stop at Ensenada (okay, so that port is not so great).  What was truly splendid was the ease of flying into San Diego and taking a 5 minute cab ride to the port.  (And, folks I truly mean it.)  Why the Port of San Diego is not used more, completely baffles me?  Forget crummy San Pedro or Long Beach, let’s hear a big cheer for San Diego!!!

Okay, back to the “Ho Jo….”

I knew we were in for an interesting crowd, while waiting for our group number to be called to board the ship.  The 4 gentlemen (ahhhemm) sitting next to me were already drunk!  During this embarkation period, we got to watch Holland America’s Oosterdam also board their guests.  Who do I see while waiting????…Ronald Regan, Jr. and his family boarding the “dam” ship!  Now he’s not a huge celebrity, but geez, I would have much rather cruised with him than the “ahhhemm gentlemen” that I had the unfortunate circumstance of not only seeing, but smelling.

Once on board we headed to check out our lovely peach & orange oceanview cabin, aka our home away from home for the next 7 days.

Why, oh why???

Fine, it’s a very 80’s color palette, fine they seem to have the Titanic as a light fixture, but really Carnival that painting over the beds must scare small children.  Frankly, it’s even a lot creepy from an adult’s perspective.

 

 

 

 

Now what is one of the major attractions or in some cases fear for cruisers? – the food!  As I headed toward the dining room on the first evening, I was not expecting a 5-star or Michelin rated meal, but geez how about something edible?  I can only describe the food as a cross between school cafeteria and hospital food.  Each night when it came time for dinner, it was getting harder and harder to drag the feet into the dining room.

Now earlier you might have winced at the thought of Ensenada, but wow was it truly welcomed.  Thank you Habana Banana for your great margaritas and FOOD!!!

The entertainment onboard was either lacking or just plain bad.  However, the best entertainment found on the ship was art auctioneer, Ellis.  He was full of energy and a great comedian.  So even if you don’t plan on purchasing any art, still go and check it out.  Not to mention you will receive free champagne while you there.

As the tradition goes with Carnival’s “fun” factor, returning each evening to a towel animal in the cabin puts a smile on one’s face.  I am still wondering what the cabin stewards do if you don’t leave out your sunglasses for them to use?  Personally, my favorite was the Towel Monkey!

The Pool Area continued with the strange color scheme of the ship – Orange and yellow tile with a blue slide… I mean really, does this draw you to want to hang out if you are over the age of 12?

So Carnival heard the pleas from the over 21 crowd and created an adults only outdoor space.  No pool, but there are 2 Jacuzzis.  They refer to this as The Serenity – an adult retreat.  Great idea, no screaming children to be found anywhere in sight, but…Carnival you lost me on the serene part with all of the engine noise!

Overall, I found the ship décor to be dated, worn and tired (in some cases walls were cracked and falling apart), the crowds at the buffet areas were overwhelming due to poor space planning and the cabins, especially those located mid-ship on the port side to be very noisy!  There are much better, nicer and palatable ships out there sailing the Western Caribbean!

– Coming soon, Cabo resort reviews!!!

Hi, I’m back!!!  Miss me?  I missed you guys!  WOW, that Royal Caribbean sale was great for biz! 

So last year I spent 5 days at the (then new) Secrets Silversands. Great resort and the most requested drink there was the Miami Vice!  I kept looking around for Don Johnson, but he was nowhere to be found.  Oh no, I think I just dated myself…Sorry, but I am a product of the ’80’s.  I even have pictures of 2 guests from my (formal) wedding that dressed like Crockett & Tubbs! 

Back to the drink – – – Enjoy!

You have to agree this resembles one of Crockett's Suits...

You have to agree this resembles one of Crockett's Suits...

This drink is all about the presentation—getting a clear separation of white (piña colada) from red (strawberry daiquiri).

First, blend together 2.5 ounces of your favorite rum with 1 cup of ice and 4 ounces of piña colada mix. Blend until smooth and then set aside. Rinse out your blender and add 2.5 ounces of the same rum, 1 cup of ice and 4 ounces of strawberry daiquiri mix. Now, layer in a hurricane glass the pina colada and strawberry daiquiri creating a red and white stripe.

Hi Everyone!

Last month I posted a video I received from my wholesaler that offers villas for rent in Cabo San Lucas. Well, how can I let September get by us, without another amazing video?!?!

Below you will see Sting Rays jumping in and out of the water near Land’s End, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Really weird! Frankly, in all of my years of spending time with these creatures (yes, I owe you a post from my trip to Tahiti where I kissed one!), I have never seen them do this!

Who wants to go to Cabo? I know I do!!!

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Sorry everybody, but I have been down for the count with one of the worst head colds I’ve had in years.  I just got this info from my Princess Rep and I thought I would share the info with you.  I love having San Francisco as a departure port for these cruises!   For those of us locally it does not require any flying.  For those out of town, it gives you the opportunity to come in a day or 2 ahead and experience this very cool city!

So drop me a line if you are interested in any of these itineraries!

ALASKA

  • May 22-Sept. 19, 2010 SEA PRINCESS  10-day round-trip from SFO.

           (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm/scenic cruising* &   Victoria)

            *some itineraries call on Glacier Bay, June 1, June 21, Jul 11, Jul 31, Aug 10   

MEXICO

  • Sept. 29, 2010  SEA PRINCESS  10-day round-trip from SFO (Catalina, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego)
  • Apr 8, 19 & 30, 2011 STAR PRINCESS  (3 voyages) 11-day round-trip from SFO (Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas)

PANAMA CANAL

  • Sept.16, 2009 ISLAND PRINCESS 15-day SFO to FLL (Acapulco, Huatulco, Punta Arenas Costa Rica, Fuerte Amador for Panama City, Panama Canal, Cartagena, Aruba)
  • May 7, 2010 SEA PRINCESS 15-day FLL to SFO (Aruba, Cartegena, Panama Canal, Punta Arenas Costa Rica, Hualtulco, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas)
  • Oct. 6, 2010 ISLAND PRINCESS 15-day SFO to FLL (Cabo San Lucas, Punta Arenas Costa Rica, Fuerte Amador for Panama City, Panama Canal, Cartagena, Aruba)
  • Oct. 9, 2010  SEA PRINCESS 16-day SFO to FLL (Cabo San Lucas, Punta Arenas Costa Rica, San Juan del Sur Nicaragua, Fuerte Amador for Panama City, Panama Canal, Cartagena, Aruba)
  • April 25, 2011 SEA PRINCESS 16-day FLL to SFO (Aruba, Cartagena, 2-day Canal experience, Punta Arenas Costa Rica, Cabo San Lucas)

EXOTICS

  • Sept. 22, 2010 SAPPHIRE PRINCESS 30-day SFO to SYD (Honolulu, Lahaina, cross the Equator, Bora Bora, Papeete, Moorea, Pago Pago, Apia, Fiji, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Fiordland Nat’l Park/scenic cruising) 

COASTALS

  • Sept. 20, 2010 SAPPHIRE PRINCESS 2-day Vancouver to SFO (no ports)
  • May 11, 2011 STAR PRINCESS  2-day SFO to Vancouver (no ports)
  • May 14, 2011 ISLAND PRINCESS 2-day SFO to Vancouver (no ports)
  • May 19, 2011 CORAL PRINCESS 4-day SFO to Vancouver (Victoria)

Hi Everyone!

A real quicky today – Cabo.  It easy to get to, especially from the West Coast!  Some great all-inclusive resorts can be found there.  Even better – you can also find a tremendous amount of Villas to rent there, as well.  Great idea for families!

I was sent this clip from one of my wholesalers that rents Villas.  You have gotta watch it to the end.  AMAZING!  Who wants to go?  I know I do!!!

http://vimeo.com/5679213

My most favorite resorts to send my clients to in the Mexican Riviera are the all-inclusive Karisma Resorts – El Dorado Seaside Suites, El Dorado Royal and the various Azul Resorts.  Of all of them, Seaside is the most intimate.  I simply never have had a client come back miserable…YAY!!!

What has become so popular these days are Destination Weddings.  What a great idea of combining your wedding and honeymoon into one!  Not to mention, very economical.  I know what my wedding cost 15 years ago, so I can only imagine today it would be a rather nice down payment on a home.  So when I came accross this special today, I had to share with ya’ll. (Did I just go country on you????) 

If you are getting married or know someone interested in planning a Destination Wedding, consider this as an option.  One of the services I provide is dealing with your guests travel arrangements, so you don’t have to.  I also assist you with the planning of the wonderful day in paradise!

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Brides can say “I do” with their toes in the sand, or have a wedding in the sky at El Dorado Spa Resorts and Hotels and Azul Hotels, by Karisma. Luxurious Bridal Suites, a dedicated team of wedding coordinators, and an exclusive Justice of peace are just a few of the many amenities we provide. Every detail of the special day can be customized as we offer virtually limitless options. Let us help you to plan the perfect wedding!

35% off private functions and up to 20% off group room rates

Book now thru December 22nd, 2009.

Travel December 23, 2009 – December 22nd, 2010

Contact Me today for further details!

So last March I lucked out and got to do more than spend an afternoon doing a ship inspection – I got to sail on Carnival Cruises brand spanking new ship, the Splendor!  It was a 3 day/2 night cruise to nowhere out of San Francisco.  Okay, I can see some of those heads cocking to the side like a cute poodle…  A cruise to nowhere is when the ship simply sails around and does not stop at a port.  There’s this long boring regulation called the Jones Act, which simply says any foreign registered cruise liner (in which 99% of them are – the NCL Pride of America is the exception and it will be discussed in another posting at a later date) must make at least 1 stop in a foreign port.  Otherwise, it can only do an itinerary and say it loudly, “A Cruise to Nowhere.”   In our case, we just putted along in the Pacific far enough out that we did not see the coast.

Of course, I did not sail alone, as I had my partner in group travel, Rita & my agency owner Anita along for the ride.  Lots of fun, lots of laughter and of course, LOTS OF WINE!  Why not?  It was free!  Not that has ever stopped this crowd before…

Now let’s talk about this ship – she is the competition for RCCL’s Mariner of the Seas (see earlier posting), doing 7 night Mexican Riviera out of Los Angeles.  Personally, I think even though they both cater to families, I would actually prefer to put clients with young children on the Splendor, than the Mariner.  The reason – I found the children’s areas and programs great!  RCCL has great entertainment and amenities (like the rock wall, inline skating, etc…) that older kids would totally enjoy.

Kids Waterpark. Yes, I got soaked trying take this pic

Kids Waterpark. Yes, I got soaked trying take this pic

They even thought of the little people when designing their bathroom in the play area, called Camp Carnival.

Camp Carnival Bathroom - So Cute!

Camp Carnival Bathroom - So Cute!

I thought this was a really nice ship, with 1 exception.  When the designers got together, I picture someone shouting out in the meeting “PINK POLKA DOTS” and everyone must have agreed how brilliant.  Really?  They went a little overboard in that department…

Pink Polka Dots

The two story dining rooms were impressive.  Not as beautiful as Mariner, but still very nice.  They are named the Gold Pearl and Black Pearl.

The Black Pearl Restaurant
The Black Pearl Restaurant

In regards to food, I have always been pleased with Carnival.  This is surprising, because I don’t think that highly of their other brand – Princess Cruises’ cuisine.  Don’t get me wrong – they are not as good as Celebrity Cruises, but the food was good and plentiful onboard.  I still really enjoy their pre-dinner sushi bar (and, one night they did Tapas), located on the Promenade level.  Because you know when you cruise, one MUST feed every few hours!

I found that there were a lot of bars on this ship vs. places to just lounge around.  However the décor of the public spaces are great and I loved the casino the best!

Casino

The staterooms were what I have come to expect from Carnival.  Décor was strange, while also being on the plain side.  I like the size of the standard balcony stateroom.  Plenty of space, lots of mirrors and a nice sized seating area.  And, of course, no Carnival cruise is without coming back at the end of the night to your towel buddy…

Towel Buddy

Carnival has some of the best pricing and I would be happy to discuss booking your next family vacation and include some extra amenities!