Tag Archives: Vision of the Seas

Google, Book & Enjoy – or Not

Lifeboat Drill, Royal Caribbean


So I’ve given you my secrets to finding a great cruise:

Now for some real life application!

Hit or Miss!

Do you have a friend who finds amazing bargains at a particular store?  Have you ever walked into that store and not found a darned thing?  Was that the last time your visited?  Well, travel planning is a little bit like shopping in that way.

If you are a savvy shopper then you know where to go to find the best stuff at the best price, but you also know that you won’t find what you want every time you walk in.  Sometimes you will find so much great stuff and it will be so cheap, you’ll feel like you’re cheating someone.  The next time you go – nada.  Then maybe the next time you pick up an item or two, but it’s nothing to write home about.  Eventually you look in your closet and it seems like all the good stuff came from that place and no one would believe you if you told them how little you paid for it all.

If you rarely travel, then you are more likely to hate traveling.  When you think about traveling, you dread it because everything about it is a hassle and more often than not, it’s not worth the effort.  However, the more you travel, the more you figure out about it and the better you are at it.  Your wins outweigh your losses and even when things don’t exactly go right, you learn how to grab victory out of the jaws of defeat.

No Guarantees!

The truth of the matter is that you can do everything right and bomb out completely, but isn’t that true of everything in life?  The great thing is you can also decide on Thursday evening to take a long weekend at a nearby B&B and have the time of your life.  I’ve never been fond of gambling, but I love taking at chance that I am going to have a great time when I travel.

I’m lucky.  My mom loved traveling and I started learning travel secrets from her when I didn’t even realize that was what was going on.  I watched her plan huge road trips from scratch when there was no internet and long distance phone calls were too expensive for her to make on a regular basis.  Those were the good old days, but do I ever have some great stories to tell.

The main thing I learned from her was that you can’t get it right every time and even when everything goes wrong you can still have a good time – or you can be miserable.  It’s a conscious choice.

And that leads me right into our latest cruise – number 7 for us, but it wasn’t our lucky cruise. It started one Sunday evening as a kind of lark and turned into a trial by cruise boat.  Oh, none of those disasters where everybody is sick or stranded.  There was no man overboard or running aground.  It was just a miserable time or it could have been.  Instead we pulled a pretty nice escape out of what could have been a travel horror story.

Since we’re still enjoying Egypt on Wednesdays, we’ll call this a Travel Here series, because it all started in Galveston in our home state.  Come back next week and I’ll share our story.  Maybe you’ll learn some tips on how to turn travel traumas into great vacations.


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Filed under Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Teach Google to Help You Travel

Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas


This afternoon I’ll be boarding Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas for a short cruise in the Gulf.  We dreamed up this idea one recent Sunday evening to celebrate Bill’s birthday and by Tuesday afternoon our cruise was booked.  I would have had it booked the next day, but Bill needed a day to cogitate.  Three weeks later, we’ll be on board.

CTC – Tell Sandra I sent you

How’d You Do That?

Moments after booking our cruise, I shared my glee on Facebook.  That Sunday a friend asked me how I had done it, because she figures that’s the only way she’ll ever convince her husband to go – a last minute decision.  I was a little surprised at the question.  I am so travel-focused I thought nothing of booking a cruise on short notice.  I Googled around Sunday night, had a list of the best bargains ready for Bill Monday morning and called my travel agent Tuesday morning.

Let’s start with the travel agent.  Use one!  Mine is Sandra Rubio at CTC and I highly recommend her, but wherever you are, find one and use them.  I like to do my own preliminary research, but when it comes to booking, I trust Sandra.

See, I have booked online.  It takes forever.  I’ve booked on the phone.  It takes even longer.  What’s worse, you cannot trust anything they tell you.  They don’t know.  They’ve never been there.  They may never have been out of their small town in Minnesota, but they are advising you on how to book your cruise.  You’ll have this one-time transaction with them and you could never find them again if your life depended on it.  Yet you are willing to trust them with at least $1000 of your money and more importantly your vacation!

Any deal you see online, your travel agent can get for you for the exact same price and you don’t pay them a penny in commission.  It’s their job and the cruise lines are so happy for them to do it, they gladly pay them for it.  So please, once you have an idea of your budget and where you want to go – call your travel agent!

What Not to Do!

Amazed that my friend needed coaching on booking a cruise, I asked a few pertinent questions, trying to find out what her issues were.  There were two.  She was using her phone to click Facebook advertisements.  Don’t do that!  Google what you want and do it on a computer – either a desktop or laptop.

My friend said, “When I click on the link, what I get has nothing to do with the ad.  It’s called click bait.  Just don’t.

The other issue is space.  There is only so much you can see on your phone – even if the site is optimized for it.  On a cruise site, whether it is an actual cruise company, your local travel agency or a travel consolidator, there are all kinds of tabs, buttons, searches.  You can look for places, ports, dates, ships – all kinds of stuff, but if you are looking at your phone, its like kissing through a screen door.  You can’t fall in love that way.

Go Googling

Just for fun, I googled “I want to cruise” as I wrote this post.  The first three listings were ads.  Ignore those.  They are actually marked as ads on the results page, but you have no idea how many people I discover who are amazed at this.  They’ve been looking at it for years and never saw it.

The next four results were for a site called “iwantacruise.com.”  Ignore those, too.  Somebody paid big bucks to get that url, but that doesn’t mean they know anything about cruising.  Suspect all sites that mirror your query.  In addition, I usually ignore everything from Yelp, Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon, Thumbtack, Expedia and such until I know more.  All these types of sources let companies pay to get noticed.  It might as well be a straight out ad.  Yes, there are reviews from consumers, but until you know more, you aren’t ready for reviews.

Below that is where the good stuff is – the actual cruise lines and Cruise Critic (which is a great resource).  Because it was a non-specific query, I then got a You Tube video.  A few responses later I found Carnival Cruise Line and found out they have a pretty good website crew, because they dominated the next 10-20 listings.  That still doesn’t tell you whether Carnival is going where you want to go or even if they are a good cruise line, only that they invest money in SEO (search engine optimization) specialists.

In the search above, the first cruise line I got was Royal Caribbean.  You want to know why?  It has to do with what I’ve been looking at recently.  I’ve been all over the internet looking for information for my cruise.  I’ve researched shore excursions, looked for reviews of the on board dining, maps of the ship and the price of beverages.  I’ve been in and out of the Royal Caribbean ‘My Cruises” site, booking my cruise extras.  I’ve got emails in my Gmail from my travel agent about my cruise and an email from Royal Caribbean about my Crown & Anchor membership.  In case you hadn’t realized it yet, Google is nosy.  It makes itself aware of what I am doing on the internet – whether it’s online searches, emails or even social media.  When I asked about a cruise, it assumed I wanted to know about the cruise I was about to board.  A little creepy, but true.

So, to find out what you want to know on the internet, you first have to know what you’re looking at.  What’s clickbait?  What’s an ad?  What’s real?  I live and breathe this stuff, but Google is gambling that we don’t.  If you’re going to use Google as your resource, invest the time in getting to know it.

Long-Tailed Keyword Phrases

This day and time, the more specific your query is, the more likely you will get the information you want.  These types of queries are called long-tailed keyword phrases.  You may not care what they are called, but they are your friend.  When I came home on that recent Sunday night, I didn’t google cruises.  I googled “3 day cruises from Galveston,” because I knew that’s the port I wanted to depart from and because I wanted the shortest cruise I could find.  I also googled a couple of other things like “cheap Galveston cruises.” I usually try several queries to see which gives me the best responses. Then I start shopping, but I’ve already gone on too long about this for one post.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you more.


Filed under Cruising, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, International, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States