The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More on vacations at sea

In my past few posts I’ve tried to share some knowledge about the cruise product and I’d like to continue talking about cabin location.

Many factors determine your cruise fare like when you are sailing -high or low season, cabin type, location, advanced or last minute bookings. These are just a few of the qualifiers that impact your rate. The variance in price can be substantial between an inside no view room, an outside stateroom or balcony cabin or it can just be as low as $10.00 per person per day to upgrade.

You’ve heard the term location-location-location and yes it definitely impacts the cost of a cruise vacation. In today’s cruise pricing matrix the least expensive cabins are on the lowest passenger decks. As you go higher and move up a deck and so on the rates increase. In other words the basement cabins are the cheapest (and in my opinion the best deal) and the top floor ones most expensive. Move up decks pay more, move down decks pay less.

Most of today’s mega liners are large, stabilized platforms but you can still experience the ocean currents. The ships rock up and down and roll side to side so most of the motion will be experienced on the higher decks and in the front and back of the vessel. Pay more and experience more.

Back to the location thing, frequently the cabins located towards the bow (front) and stern (back) of the ship are also more expensive. Forward and aft and up grading from the lowest passenger decks cost more. Got the concept?

With this concept in mind let’s talk about ride comfort (not feeling the motion of the ship) and cabin location. Physical science shows that if you’re located mid ship in one of the lower cabins chances are you’ll experience a smoother ride. After all that is where the bulk & mass of the ship is located. Forward and aft rooms can rock and roll while mid ships cabins tend to offer a more stable ride.

I will not deny that even in calm seas you will experience some motion of the ocean. But to minimize this motion and sleep peacefully I recommend the bargain basement cabins over the higher located more expensive staterooms. Give this guy that bargain priced inside cabin any day and I’m happy. I’ll go on deck for the spectacular vistas of cruising into a new port.

I know that this is not the mantra of the cruise lines and many of my travel agent partners but I’m sorry I want you to have a great time on your cruise vacation. By taking some simple precautions like cabin location will help minimize the possibility that you will experience any motion discomfort.

Motion discomfort is a whole different subject and I’ll address that later.

Happy travels!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vacations at sea part 3

You’re considering a cruise vacation and now face the chore of deciding what is the best cabin for you and you are overwhelmed with all the choices. This sounds all too familiar to many folks so let me provide some guidance to help you select the proper cabin.

The 1st step is to think about how you’ll spend your time in your floating home away from home room. Is your cabin simply a place to stash your baggage and grab some sleep? Or is it a gathering stop for family and friends? Next determine how much space you need? Please keep in mind that cruise cabins are small some are really small. Another important question is do you want a view of the outside world.

Now that you have had a personal Q & A session let us talk about the different staterooms options. In my opinion there are basically 4 types of cabins-the interior windowless cabin, the exterior (outside) cabin with a view, an exterior cabin with a view and balcony and lastly the suite.

The least expensive cabins (and in my opinion the best value) are the inside staterooms and prices increase as you upgrade to windows, balconies and move up from the lowest passenger accommodations deck to higher decks.

On today’s cruise ships once you leave your cabin you’re free to enjoy the ship’s amenities and no one know if you’re in a bargain cabin or the most expensive ocean view. OK there are some perks for those sailing in suites but for the rest of us passengers we are all treated the same. I go cruising for activities that occur outside of my cabin so I pay for the least expensive available then spend much of my time outside the cabin. To me I don’t see the difference between standing on the Promenade deck or a balcony as we sail into a new port. What I’ve saved on cruise fare will help cover my green fees, shore excursions and casino adventures.

Unlike the Titanic today’s cabins are all located above the water line and tastefully appointed with a TV, phone, private shower/bath, climate controls and some rooms even have Internet access. Many have two lower beds that when pushed together convert to a queen bed and some of the very newest vessels actually offer a traditional queen bed. 3rd and 4th guests in a cabin are accommodated by fold down upper berths and in some instances you can actually have a rollaway bed that increases the sleeping capacity to five. Any more than 5 people then you’re looking at a more expensive suite or 2 cabins.

Next time I’ll take a look at what deck to select and how location of your cabin front, aft or mid ship can impact your sailing.

Happy travels!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A week from...well you know where!

It was one of those weeks. A week of 4 Mondays filled with many small fires that had to be fought. I know that you’ve been there too good intentions to get a lot accomplished but you’re always getting sidetracked.

That was my week in review but hopefully the fires are out and I can get back to a more normal routine and start talking about travel and tourism again.

My plan is to get back to vacations at sea talking about lodging-your cabin/stateroom or berth. I'll discuss the various types, locations and their pros & cons.

Happy travels!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cruise vacations part 2

Today’s deep ocean cruise vessels are virtually floating resorts with all the things a fine resort hotel has to offer plus more! The ships plying the inland rivers, lakes and sea are floating boutique hotels. For the romantics you’ll still find tall masted sailing ships or nostalgic stern wheel paddle boats. The choice of ships, destinations and itineraries may be overwhelming but after you select the proper ship and itinerary to suit your vacation style you’ll be ready to sail away.

Gourmet restaurants, world class spas, well equipped fitness centers, Internet cafes and satellite TV are found on today’s cruise ships. Well equipped classrooms, meeting centers, dance clubs even state of the art child care centers await you on board. On board you'll meet new friends who share the same tastes and interests as you.

The hassles of an ordinary vacation are completely eliminated. A cruise is one convenient package. You don't have to worry about making dinner or nightclub reservations, running to make flight connections as you travel from one destination to another, or packing and unpacking.
Unpack once then lie back and be completely pampered. Or take the active nonstop route. Do nothing at all or do it all! Indulge your senses and dine like never before, enjoy one great show after another or try your hand with Lady Luck in the casino. Or just “veg” out on the Pool deck and let your cares float away!

With today’s low, low cruise fares it’s no wonder that more people are taking cruise vacations than ever before. And once they get a taste of cruising, they come back for more, again and again.

Next time I’ll talk about your home away from home-your cruise cabin/stateroom.

Happy travels!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cruise Vacations part one

Today more and more people are looking for value when they invest their travel dollars and many me included have discovered the pleasures of a cruise vacation. These mostly inclusive voyages are enjoyed by singles, families, couples, honeymooners, second honeymooners and groups of friends. Even the corporate boardroom has taken to sea mixing business with pleasure. Last year nearly seven million people enjoyed this vacation style. When you add up what all is included in a cruise vacation I’m sure you’ll see why it’s a great travel value and want to get onboard.

The price of your cruise ticket includes an exciting voyage to some of the most enchanting and culturally-enriching places and ports in the world as most major destinations are easily reached via deep blue oceans or inland waterways. Once onboard the vessel normally all of your meals and in-between snacks on-board; your stateroom, activities, parties and entertainment are included. Carnival Cruise Lines even offers a 24 hour pizzeria and their pies are free; Royal Caribbean offers a rock climbing and ice skating rink.

There are some exceptions that will have you reaching for your sign and sail (on board charge card). Items you’ll have to purchase onboard include soft drinks, alcohol, shore excursion, spa treatments, nominal fees for reservations only specialty restaurants, gratuities and other items of a personal nature. This reason is why I consideration most cruises to be fairly inclusive not an all inclusive package. Even with these additional fees tacked on to your total trip costs I still strongly believe that a vacation at sea is a great value when compared to comparable land based touring vacations.

Ok I hope you have a better idea of what a cruise vacation is so next time I’ll talk more about the ship and more on the benefits of cruising.

Happy travels! Email your cruise questions to or call 800.626.0513 ext. 4559.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cruise "Wave" season specials

For years February was “Wave Season” a month when cruise lines offered special deals to fill their ships. This year it’s started as the cruise discounts continue to roll in. There are values aplenty these days. Here are some examples of the special promotions:

· Savings of 60 -70 % off of regular tariff (brochure price)
· Kids sail free
· Cabin upgrades
· Hundreds of dollars in board ship credits
· Reduced deposits amounts
· Purchase a qualifying Disney land package and you’ll get a free 3 day cruise

Now is the time to vacation at sea. Today is the time to conduct a business meeting at sea. How about a family or class reunion at sea? Take your garden club members and explore the gardens of Europe or the Caribbean. These possibilities are endless.

Today is the time to cruise. My upcoming posts I’ll be talking about the cruise industry, another major component of the travel and tourism industry.

Email your cruise questions or concerns to or call 800.626.0513 ext. 4559.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More thoughts on a career as a tour manager

AJ: Here's some more thoughts on career preparation for a position as a tour manager.

You will need excellent interpersonal skills as you’ll need to communicate with travelers and suppliers. For foreign travel a second or third language is a must. You must like working with people and see opportunity where others may not. Tact and diplomacy are additional important skills. A thirst for further knowledge-being a lifelong learning-is another must. Knowledge of psychology and sociology along with general business practices are more must haves. I also suggest obtaining additional training and plenty of destination knowledge.

Ohio University Southern Campus in Ironton offers on-line classes in group tour leadership and design and there are many educational options.

Local companies like AAA, National Travel and Fellowship Tours conduct group tours so these may be places to start gaining experience. AJ hopefully I answered your questions. If not ask away at or call me at 740.533.4559 or toll free 800.626.0513 ext. 4559.

Happy travels!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Getting paid to travel

AJ from Milton asked: “I’ve always loved to travel and was thinking about working in the travel business. What are my career options that would allow me to travel frequently?

Ah getting paid to travel what a pleasant thought! And a real possibility too! The ability for free or reduced rate is one of the perks of this industry. It can also be part of your job responsibilities if you work as a tour manger for a tour operator.

The tour operator basically assembles the various tour elements thus creating the package tour. They market their trips, sell space, handle the flow of money and paper then conduct the tours.

Conducting the tour is the travel phase and many companies employ tour managers. These travel professionals accompany the travelers, manage the day to day operations of the journey and really bring the tour to life. It can mean long hours, plenty of problem solving and personal interactions. However working as a tour manager can really take you places and can be a rewarding career.

Local companies like AAA, National Travel and Fellowship Tours conduct group tours so these may be places to start gaining experience. I’d also suggest obtaining additional training and plenty of destination knowledge. Ohio University Southern Campus in Ironton offers
on-line classes in group tour leadership and design so check these courses out.

AJ hopefully I answered your questions. If not ask away at or call me at 800.626.0513 ext. 4559.

Happy travels!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Biofuel powers airline flight

A while back I talked about Continental Airlines flying a test flight with the plane powered with a biofuel. Yesterday they successfully conducted the flight. Click here to view the news piece.

Hopefully they can produce this new fuel at a price much lower than oil based jet fuel and this will lead to a reduction in airfares and fuel surcharges.

I can dream can't I?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 travel predictions

As the economy and oil prices stabilize travel marketers will offer incredibly low offers as they attempt to capture your discretionary dollar.

2009 will be the year of TRAVEL BARGAINS. I expect prices to be comparable to rates 15 to 20 years ago. Cruises, tour packages and hotel rooms should lead the way in discounted offerings.

Do a quick check of how much of an income tax refund you’ll be receiving and take that dream trip. Quit earning ½% interest and take the cash out of your savings account then pay for the trip of a life time.

Happy travels