Princess Cruises and Uncruise Adventures

Over the course of a year, suppliers in the travel industry will host presentations for travel agents. These are great events that allow me to focus my attention on a specific vendor. It helps me reflect on which of my clients would be the best fit for these companies’ offerings. It also gives me a little insight into where the presenters are putting their emphasis. I want to gain an insight into their core messages and where the company is going. Reading these tea leaves helps me take a pulse on where the industry is going.

I was able to attend events from Princess Cruises and Uncruise Adventures. Talk about two vendors that offer very different offerings filling wonderful niches in the travel industry. It highlighted a few important points for everyone to remember. One – travel in the style you find comfortable. There are so many good travel options out there that I know I can find one that fits you. Two – There is always something new out there. Our world gets smaller every day and new destinations are becoming available that you might never have considers. Three – My bucket list keeps getting longer and there is no way I am ever going to get to the bottom!

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has always been a favorite of my clients. We moldy oldies remember the famous Love Boat TV series which gave many of us our first glimpse (if completely unrealistic) into the world of cruise travel. Princess became famous for their early cruises out of Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera and was one of the first cruise lines to focus attention in Alaska. The key message that Princess is sending out today is that they are so much more and go to so many destinations!

Princess has always had strong offerings in Alaska and has made major investments in this business. Their roundtrip Alaska cruises, embarking from Seattle, have grown in popularity every year. Of course, this staple of their business will be back this year. This is a great way to see Southeast Alaska but there are so many other options. If you want to see more, consider the Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary that sails from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska or vice versa.

This itinerary adds College Fjord or Hubbard Glacier to Glacier Bay National Park to your Inside Passage cruising to double your glacier viewing.

If you’re looking for even more Alaska, consider adding a tour on to your cruise. These tours add an additional 3 to 7 days and allow you to discover the interior of Alaska. The highlight of many of these itineraries is the direct-to-the-wilderness rail service, which takes you directly from Whittier to the Denali area lodges and of course, the ability to view and visit Mt. Denali itself.

All of Princess’ itineraries put a focus on understanding the unique nature of Alaska. I think this video will give you a feel for what they are trying to accomplish!

Princess Cruises has always been a favorite of my clients. We moldy oldies remember the famous Love Boat TV series which gave many of us our first glimpse (if completely unrealistic) into the world of cruise travel. Princess became famous for their early cruises out of Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera and was one of the first cruise lines to focus attention in Alaska. The key message that Princess is sending out today is that they are so much more and go to so many destinations!

Of course, there is much more to what Princess offers than Alaska. It’s obvious that Princess wants to emphasize this point. Over the years, they have added itineraries all over the world, including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean, Canada & New England, Japan, South America and Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific.

What I found interesting was an emphasis on itineraries to Iceland. There are several itineraries but I found the Iceland & Norway Itinerary very interesting:

I also thought visiting Greenland was an interesting itinerary:

The focus on destinations reminded me that many people have a very fixed idea of where to go on a cruise. It is easy to think cruises are limited to the Caribbean or Alaska. In reality, you can find a cruise on just about any ocean or river!

Uncruise Adventures

There are also a variety of ways to cruise. I was able to visit the SS Legacy from Uncruise Adventures right here in Portland. It was an opportunity to experience a taste of small ship cruising.

The Legacy evokes the design of steamships that used to ply the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

This quaint ship is used in Alaska and also cruises on the Columbia and Snake river. I visited the Legacy on her last stop in Portland before she headed back to Seattle for the winter.

Uncruise Adventures takes a much different approach to cruise vacations. I think they emphasize that with their name. Their itineraries are based on providing customers with a hands-on experience. Their ships are equipped with kayaks and Zodiacs. They use local guides that have first-hand knowledge of their locations.

Uncruise Adventures has itineraries in Alaska, the Columbia & Snake Rivers, Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos. .

One key message that Uncruise Adventures wanted to communicate was the availability of early itineraries in Alaska, the Alaska Awakenings.

These itineraries are available in April and May, before the crowds and big cruise ships begin to arrive in Alaska. Alaska awakens from its winter slumber—and there is a lot more to see (bears, northern lights, budding forests, migrating grey whales and birds, snowcapped mountains, raging waterfalls, and more sunshine). The early bird catches the worm, so they say.

You can get a lot of information from any presentation from a travel vendor but being able to experience their product is even more valuable. You might expect adventures on Uncruise Adventures, but you will also experience good food and friendly service.

When I am working with clients, a big part of my job is understanding the kind of experience they are looking for. There are many types of vacation out there and many vendors that offer wonderful itineraries. My job is to guide you through the options and find the best fit for you. Staying on top of all these options is part of my job!

A Luxury Resort Getaway in Nuevo Vallarta

OK, that is probably a reference that will go over the head of any of you who did not have a child in the ’90’s. It refers to a show called “Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego”, which was broadcast on PBS to help kids build geography knowledge. I am using it to introduce my latest vacation destination.

Here are your clues:

  • This location sits to the south of
  • It borders Banderas Bay
  • It sits in a complex surrounded by resorts like, the Grand Mayan, Mayan Palace and the Grand Luxxe.

Some of you, who my guess would be are older than dirt, were reaching for your Encyclopedia Britannica. The rest of you, who still chew your food, probably reached for your smart phone and know that I am talking about Nuevo Vallarta!

My father-in-law was able to take advantage of a special rate through his time share company and secure us a huge suite at the Residence at the Grand Luxxe. It was a fabulous facility and probably the largest room I have ever stayed in. Our bedroom alone was probably larger than most places I have stayed.

While I don’t think many folks are going to have a chance to stay in this type of room, it is good to think about why this kind of opportunity popped up. This room was available at an awesome rate because:

  • September is part of the low season for Puerto Vallarta. September has a good amount of rain and the standard rule applies that if the kids are in school, rates are lower.
  • There was a lot of maintenance going on. Half of our building and several attractions, including the Lazy River, were closed.
  • The deal was offered to my father-in-law through his timeshare company. Since this resort is primarily a time share facility, their best market is people who own a timeshare.

Remember, most timeshares have excess capacity, so you can find availability for rent, just like a hotel. I can book these resorts for you and bundle air to complete your vacation.

You might wonder how these factors impacted our vacation. We had some good thunderstorms throughout the week but it only impacted our plans on one afternoon. You will notice that several of my pictures have overcast skies.  A positive factor was that the crowds were small and we didn’t have problems like lines or problems getting reservations.

One thing that people always worry about when visiting a timeshare is that you are going to get the high-pressure sales pitch. We were offered several opportunities to attend a sales presentation and receive discounts or spa services but the calls were pleasant and professional. I never felt pressure. I don’t really have an interest in time shares so I politely declined.

The great thing about this location is that you can take advantage of the amenities of your resort and the partner resorts. There are some restrictions, based on which resort your accommodations are located but all the of the restaurants and most of the pools are open to your enjoyment. Those accommodations include a beautiful golf course, a full-service spa, many great restaurants and a private beach.

The Residence at the Grand Luxxe is one resort in a huge complex of resorts owned by Grupo Vidanta, a major developer of resorts in Mexico. The entire complex is huge and all of the resorts are connected by a golf cart paths that are serviced by a fleet of shuttles.

If you are looking for resort deals in Mexico, click the button below to check out my specials page!

The size of the complex provides the guest to pick from a variety of price points and accommodations based you their needs. As an example, the Grand Mayan appeals to families because of the wonderful pool area, the lazy river and other family friendly facilities.

I had a great time at this resort and highly recommend it. The restaurants are numerous and cater to every type of cuisine you can imagine. My personal favorite was Azur, which offered wonderful French cuisine. We actually dined their twice.

The facilities are well maintained and the service is wonderful and I was amazed at the landscaping. There must be a small army of gardeners keeping the grounds looking pristine.

If I had a complaint, it would be that this is an incredibly well maintained, safe, manicured bubble. You leave the airport in a shuttle, you get shuttled around a wonderful resort and you don’t really experience much of Mexico. That can be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you are looking for. It was great for a week but I must admit, I do enjoy finding an out of the way cantina where the locals serve awesome local food and ice-cold beer!