Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Travel Insurance, please don't leave home without it!

OSC Microbio 15 00 Sneeze

So I'm writing this in between Kleenexes as I fight off the last vestiges of a bout of common cold.  I've been coughing and sneezing my way through this week and, to make matters worse, the rest of my family is now starting to show symptoms.  Soon they will also know the inconvenience and irritation a simple illness can bring.  Luckily, I didn't have any travel plans this week- no cruise or tour booked.  If I had, I might have considered cancelling it.  "What? Cancelling it!" I hear you through my laptop , "You would have been crushed with cancellation penalties!"

Nope. I never travel without Travel Insurance. One of the benefits of a Travel Insurance policy is the Cancellation Protection.  With valid proof of an illness, travel insurance will reimburse you whatever cancellation penalties you incur from the travel suppliers.  I've used it before, when my wife became ill right before a Bahamas cruise.  It took about 30 days to process the claim, but the money was reimbursed.

I hear from clients, all the time, when discussing insurance- "Oh, we're going no matter what."  That's very easy to say when you're feeling great!  But it doesn't take much of an illness to change your mind about that cross country flight or that cruise that's gonna go uuup and down and uuup and down. Also, keep in mind that many travel providers have restrictions about travelers who are ill-  it doesn't take much to be DENIED BOARDING at the pier.  Cruise ships do not want even mildly sick people on board, because their closed environment makes illnesses easy to transmit.  You've probably heard the stories about outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships- this one way it happens.

Another fairly common scenario is when a family member falls ill- say an elderly parent- and you find yourself in the situation of deciding whether to stay by their side or eat a huge cancellation penalty.  Any travel insurance policy worth its salt will cover not only the travel party but close family members as well.  I never hope you never have to be in the situation of  having to decide to care for your sick relative or go on your 14-Day Tour of Ireland, but if you are, it's great to know that you've covered your travel with a great insurance policy.

Travel Insurance does much more than just protect you from cancellation penalties.  It protects you in case you run into unexpected medical situations while traveling- including air evacuation, it covers loss of baggage, and offers you a 24 hour hotline to get emergency help in a foreign country.  It's a lifeline I wouldn't leave home without.  Coverage may vary by state, so you'll want to get the specifics on your policy.

AMS Travel Sales uses Travel Insured International, an insurance company that has been trusted with thousands of trips.  They are a great company to work with and make the claims process as easy as it can be.  With AMS Travel Sales working with you through the claim, you can know it will be handled correctly.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cache the Waves 2018- Alaska!

Cache the Waves!

Why we will go:

Hey Geocachers, when we met with you at the amazing Going Caching 2017 event in Rome, GA last month, it inspired us to create an event of our own!  We want to invite YOU to our very first Cache the Waves Geocaching Cruise!  We'll be combining some amazing elements into this cruise, including finding great geocaches, fun social events, and some very creative surprises.  Not only will we have fun on land, we'll give you the chance to get your brain in gear onboard as well!  If you like puzzles, you'll love what we are cooking up for you! You'll even have the opportunity to visit Geocaching Headquarters in Seattle, and you know that's a treat!  So many of our new friends from Going Caching told us they wanted to see Alaska- and add that great state souvenir to their collection.  Here is your chance!

Where we will go:
Cache the Waves 2018- Caches in JuneauOur cruise ship is scheduled to take us from Seattle to two ports of call in Alaska- Skagway and Juneau.  We'll also visit Victoria in British Columbia.  Each port is filled with great geocaches to find!  There will be something for every skill level and ability!  
Along the way, we'll cruise through the Alaska Inside Passage and Tracy Arm Fjords to see a beautiful glacier.  You'll want your cameras ready for the beautiful vistas you'll be sure to see as we pass through by the mountainous coastlines.  
We will return to Seattle, where you'll have the opportunity to visit Geocaching HQ and do some caching around town.  You know the geocaching is going to be epic in Seattle!

When we will go:

The cruise is scheduled to depart on June 15, 2018 and arrives back to Seattle on the 22nd.  We'll visit HQ directly after the cruise.  We will recommend that everyone plan to arrive in Seattle on the 14th and depart on the 23rd.  Our expert travel planners at AMS Travel Sales will handle the details for you!

How we will go:

We will be cruising with Royal Caribbean International on the amazing Explorer of the Seas.  This is a fantastic ship with tons of activities to offer all ages.  This ship has all kinds of great features you would expect from Royal Caribbean- it has a FlowRider Surf Simulator, a rock climbing wall, an ice skating rink and more!  So much to see and do on this ship!  After a long day of caching you'll really enjoy letting your hair down in one of the 15 bars and lounges.   In the evening, take in a show at the theater or a stroll along the deck in the brisk Alaskan air. 

If you want to know more about this great adventure, take a look at the AMS Travel Sales website here, which has full details and pricing on the adventure!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fundraiser Cruise Groups

Did you know that non-profit groups can use the excitement and lure of cruising to raise funds for their operations?  Cruising as a fundraiser is a very lucrative and effective way to gain money for your charity or organization.  Not only will your organization be raising funds, they will be embarking on exciting cruise adventure at the same time!  Most cruise lines have fundraising group programs specifically designed to boost your non-profit's bottom line.  Churches, civic groups, and alumni organizations can all benefit!

Here's how it works!  For each cabin booked, the cruise line donates an amount of funds to your organization after the cruise. The specific amount is dependent on the cruise line and contract.  Also, as your group of travelers grows, you'll be granted "Free Berths" (also known as Tour Conductor Credits) that can be either sold, raffled, or auctioned off (depending on your local laws) to raise even more funds for your charity.  Taxes and port charges still apply to the free berths. Those auctions, if done properly, can really rake in the big money.  This is a serious fundraising opportunity.

Let's look at a hypothetical example.  Carnival Cruise Line has a fundraising program where your organization receives $8 per day of a cruise, per room of two booked.  This check is sent to you within 21 days of completing the cruise.  On a 7-Night Caribbean cruise, that's $56 per room.  They also have a Tour Conductor program of one Tour Conductor Credit for every 16 paying guests.  Let's say your organization was able to sell 64 rooms.  From the fundraising credit, that's 64 rooms at $56 each- $3,584 payable to your organization.  Plus, you'd qualify for four Tour Conductor Credits- that's four berths to auction off to the highest bidder.  Four berths = two rooms. Let's say you auction them for $2,000 each, that's an additional $4,000 in funds raised for your charity!  Add to that the possibility of selling T-Shirts or other exclusive goodies to your group on your own and that number keeps adding up.

When you use a travel agency to organize these groups, your responsibility is only to promote the group through your normal channels. The agency takes care of making the reservations and managing the group itself.  We handle the hard questions and problems that arise so you don't have to.  Private events and excursions?  We handle those too!  Each of your group members is treated to excellent customer service.  To organize and manage a Fundraising Group, AMS Travel Sales charges the organization a $200 nonrefundable management fee.

If you would like to know more about fundraising opportunities for your non-profit organization, schedule a free 15 Minute Adventure Planning Session with AMS Travel Sales today and let's talk about it!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Geocaching in Blackshear, GA

When I first got into geocaching and began attending local events, there was one term I heard over and over- "Blackshear."  At each event I attended, I heard people talking about this holy grail of geocaching, right in our back yard.  They were speaking of the Blackshear Geocaching Challenge. This is a series of 30 downright delightful geocaching experiences.  Five different geocache types are represented-  traditional, multicache, puzzle caches, wherigos and letterbox hybrids.  When you complete the challenge, you receive a special, trackable GeoCoin for your collection.

My family visited Blackshear in 2015 and completed most of the challenge.  Our plan is to return in the near future and complete it.  Blackshear is in Southeast Georgia, close enough to Jacksonville for a day trip.  The challenge can be completed in one day by seasoned geocachers, but we took our time and chose to really explore the history that Blackshear has to offer.

Many of the geocaches are clever, some are educational, some are artistic and all are just downright fun!  I strongly recommend anyone interested in Geocaching make sure this destination is on your bucket list!

I truly believe that a multi-day trip to this geocaching mecca is well worth it.  It is perfect for a 3-day weekend.  It's a few hours drive from Atlanta, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.  Flights would be relatively painless into Jacksonville from Denver, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, and Baltimore (Southwest offers nonstop flights from these destinations.)

The host hotel for the challenge (the location where you can obtain your geocoin) is the Comfort Inn Blackshear.  This is a typical two star chain hotel.  You can expect a clean and comfortable stay for less than $100 a night, and it is within walking distance of several of the challenge geocaches.  It's literally the only hotel in Blackshear, so unless you want to drive a bit to nearby Waycross, you're limited on choice.

If you'd like to explore a trip to Blackshear to experience the Blackshear Geocaching Challenge for yourself, schedule an appointment with AMS Travel Sales today for your free Travel Planning Session!  We can put together a complete package for you, with air, hotel and rental car.  With all our Geocaching Travel Packages we include a free GPX file with all the geocaches in the your destination, including the Blackshear Challenge caches!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Galactic Updates from Disney!

Every year, Disney's D23 Expo gathers thousands of Disneyphiles together, to hear the latest and greatest news coming from the Imagineers in charge of creating the most magical places on earth. Each year, they are treated to exhilarating news- this year...not an exception!

Disney announced major projects at their facilities around the world, including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and so much more!

Disney Cruise Line, one of my very favorite travel products, announced that they would be launching another new ship. This yet un-named vessel, brings the total of their fleet to seven majestic ocean liners.  Previously, Disney had two ships on order, for delivery in 2021 and 2023.  This third ship will snuggle right in between and be delivered in 2022.  That seems like a long way off, but travel professionals know it's right around the corner!  Since these ships are so massive, they take years to build.  It won't be too long before we hear news of construction starting In fact, you might want to bookmark this Meyer Werft shipyard webcam for later...

If you didn't know, Disney Cruise Line is near and dear to my heart and I've sold their cruises with passion for years.  I love the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.  I've had the pleasure of sailing multiple times on each ship and would be happy to guide you to a Disney Cruise Line vacation that is right for you.   Interested in learning more about Disney Cruise Line? Let's schedule an appointment to talk!

One of the coolest features on the Disney Dream is the Star Wars kids play area on the Disney Dream.  They have a replica of a starship cockpit; a perfect place for you to practice all your Harrison Ford impressions.  Disney is taking this idea and expounding on it with their Star Wars themed lands. We now know the name of these lands- Star Wars, Galaxy's Edge!  These lands will have many interactive attractions and features, some very like the set up on the Disney Dream.  What is most cool about this land is that it sounds like a living breathing universe- almost a live action RPG.  These Star Wars lands are scheduled to both open in 2019.  Considering the lengthy development of Pandora, the Avatar attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom, I think that's pretty ambitious!

Along with the Star Wars themed lands, Disney announced a Star Wars themed resort at Walt Disney World.  I can't wait to see what this is all about.  Disney is known for keeping their cards close to their chest when it comes with revolutionary vacation experiences.  The concept artwork looks stunning, and the industry is hearing phrases like, "...unlike anything that exists today." There are overtones of a themed adventure for guests, that will last the entire day. I wonder if there is some new AR Technology at play in their concepts.  Over the coming months we will see what the Disney Imagineers can come up with!

If you'd like more information on the new Star Wars Galaxy's Edge or would like to book it when it comes open for sale, get on my waiting list by Scheduling your very own Complimentary Adventure Planning Session today!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

See the August Total Solar Eclipse

A spectacular astronomical event will captivate the country on August 21,  a total solar eclipse!  The eclipse will be visible, at least in partial form, to the vast majority of the country.  The path of the eclipse viewing area takes a winding course across the United States.  The areas where the total eclipse will be visible includes several major cities; including one of my favorites- Nashville, TN!  If you are within driving distance to one of these cities, it will be worth a road trip to see the eclipse- as such a sight will not be seen again for decades.

The eclipse will happen on a Monday afternoon, so this is the perfect opportunity to make a long weekend in a great getaway city like Nashville!  See the legendary home of Country Music and enjoy the eclipse!  I can create custom hotel packages including accommodations and tours, to sites like the Hermitage, the Corvette Museum and the Johnny Cash Museum!

Unlike most astronomical events, this one will take place during daylight hours (obviously) and so you don't need to worry about finding dark-sky country.  Usually this means avoiding big cities.  You will, however, need special viewing equipment to see the eclipse safely.  These goggles are much better than they flimsy glasses you'll find for sale elsewhere.  The eye cups block out distracting light from your peripheral vision and will enhance your eclipse viewing experience!  Plus they're totally steampunk cool!
Buy Eclipse Viewing Goggles on Amazon!

Hotels in the total eclipse viewing area are already selling out. Systems are showing no availability at all in Charleston, SC the southernmost point of the totality viewing area.  If you intend to make the journey, you'll want to make reservations today for hotel rooms, no matter where your destination.  I can help you do that!  Just give me a call at 844-719-7802 or schedule an appointment for me to call you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Use a Cruise to Grow your YouTube Audience!

Youtubers like you are always looking for a way to bring new and exciting content to your subscribers and patrons.  You need the buzz generated by your followers to grow and expand your subscriber base.  Loyal subscribers are clamoring to meet you and engage with you not virtually, but in person.  Patrons support you financially and you want to reward that behavior- so that it continues! There is a medium that can allow you to meet all these needs- group cruises!  Use the power of cruising to bring your subscribers and patrons to you, so you can meet and share ideas, generate social excitement and new, amazing content all at the same time.

Destinations are nearly limitless, with cruises departing from dozens of ports, and visiting literally hundreds of cities, towns and countrysides on every continent.  Imagine the content you could create in the amazing, azure Caribbean or the wilderness of wild Alaska.  Want to venture further afield? How about Asia or the South Pacific? The opportunity is yours, and I can help you promote the idea.

Overwhelmed by the idea of dealing with choosing the cruise and dealing with all the subscribers who want to join- forget about it!  That's where I come in as a travel professional!  I would handle the reservations process from start to finish and organize the group for you. I'll set up the events and coordinate with the cruise line.  I'll handle the questions about passports, visas, and Aunt Gertie's scooter.  All you have to do is promote the cruise on your channel and watch the interest grow.Let AMS Travel Sales work the details.  You stick to what you do best- making great YouTube Videos.

What's more, if you get enough subscribers to join, the opportunity may be there for you to sail for a greatly reduced cost- even free!

On a cruise, I can help you organize events like private cocktail parties, dinners, meet and greet sessions, photo ops, even Q and A panels.  All exclusive to your group.  Opportunities for engagement don't end there, onshore I can arrange private shore excursions and tours to usher your subscribers and patrons to the best each destination has to offer.

I have helped dozens of organizations- churches, school groups, non-profits, and corporations bring together cruises for their members, fans, and followers.  I can do the same for you. Would you like to use the cruise to raise funds for charity?  I can show you a great way to do that!

Do you think that this sounds like something your fanbase might be excited about?  I do!  I've set aside two weeks of complimentary Adventure Planning Sessions so that you and I can discuss this.
Schedule yours today!