What is a savvy consumer to do when the travel bug bites? For those who do not wish to navigate the World Wide Web to plan their special vacation, the travel agents of Cruise Port and Travel Network are ready to serve.
"A round trip to Newark -- that's easily enough accomplished on the Internet," said Master Cruise Counselor (MCC) and co-owner of Cruise Port Travel, Claudia Humphrey. "When you are planning where to go and what to see on a cruise [or tour] vacation, that's a lot of money to invest on something when you don't know what you are doing or even when you think you know what you are doing. We have people who have booked on the Internet and people who have searched the Internet come into us when it gets overwhelming."
With the average cruise priced at several thousand dollars there are good reasons for utilizing the services of travel agent Ed Jim, owner of Travel Network said, "I would want to talk to someone personally, who would help me, if I was going to spend thousands of dollars. That's not chump change. The price of people's time is important too."
"There have always been cruises to Alaska and Australia. Now there are cruise lines offering itineraries into southeast Asia," said to Ralph Schessler, also an MCC and co-owner of Cruise Port.
"Nine-eleven brought all the cruise ships in close to the United States because the passengers felt it was safer," Humphrey said. "Now those ships are venturing further out to the Orient, Europe and the Mediterranean. There are some real unique itineraries out there that people haven't seen before. For instance there is one cruise that goes up through the southern end of Alaska clear up through the Bering Strait into Nome and Barrow."
Travel Network and Cruise Port Travel are all about value added service. Travel agents earn their commissions by knowing the products they are selling. They are not going to jeopardize their reputations with unknown companies or cheap deals that wind up costing more than dollars. They know the airports to stay clear of. They know what specials are out there. They are able to coordinate a trip with multiple participants coming from multiple destinations.
Jim recommends a nonstop flight if at all possible because then you don't have to contend with changing planes and an increased possibility of lost luggage. "Direct flights might cost a few dollars more ... but to keep your sanity and not get gray hair? It is worth it to pay more and not have problems. If you have problems, that ruins a vacation," Jim said. "I'm not going to jeopardize my reputation to save somebody $200 on a trip."
"If people know what they want and have an open time frame I can find them a great deal," Jim said. He was able to find one couple round trip airfare of $200 on either end of their Panama Canal cruise. Jim saved the couple close to $2000 over the original price of their cruise.
There is nothing magical about current gas prices but the drive to Southern California for a Disneyland vacation package remains popular with families according to Jim. "Four people can spend three days for $1,000." Jim said.
A couple is celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary came to Cruise Port for help more than a year ago. The number of people who must all arrive at the same airport so they can board the ocean liner at the same time is 36 and growing. More than a year has gone into the planning of this party.
Travel Network's new location is at 906 S. Beeline Highway. Phone (928) 472-2575 or visit online at www.travelnetwork.com/payson.
Cruise Port travel is located at 408 S. Beeline Highway, Suite A. Phone (928) 472-7878 or visit online at www.cruiseporttravel.com.
Consumer travel information is on the web at http://www.tsa.gov/public/sitemap.jsp
It's required for travel outside U.S. as of Dec. 31, 2006
It costs $97 and takes about six weeks to get
Documents needed to obtain a passport: driver's license and certified birth certificate
Forms available from the Gila County Superior Court Clerk, 714 S. Beeline Highway, Payson
Lighters can no longer be in any carry-on airline luggage.
If you lock your luggage and the Travel Safety Administration decides to open it, they are not liable for the damage caused. TSA-recognized locks with master keys are available for purchase.
If you wear boots, platform shoes, shoes with thick soles or shoes containing metal, you are likely to be asked to bare your sole or at least your socks by TSA screeners.
Allow yourself 90 minutes to get through airport security. Plan on two full hours during any kind of holiday.
Vacation Points to Ponder from Humphrey and Schessler at Cruise Port
- What is your destination?
- What time do you want to go?
- Do you want and adventure?
- Are you laid-back?
- Do you want to dress for dinner?
- Is the size of the ship important?
- What are the ages of the traveler?
- How about a walking tour?
- Do you love museums?
- Do you wish to taste fine wines?
- Have a culinary experience?
- Would you like to ride in a train?
- Are shore excursions important to you?
Travel wisdom from Jim at Travel Network
- Triple check your flight arrangements.
- Car rental basics:
Over 25: Verify whether your own insurance company or the credit card you are putting the rental car on covers car rental insurance automatically.
Under 25: Get the car rental company's insurance. Stick with the reservation you originally made.
- Check out your destination's weather for a few days before your trip.
- Two days prior to departure check you ticket with the airline for changes and cancellations.
- Use common sense.