Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Guest blogger, Rebecca Page – Entrepreneurs NEED to Unplug Too

I’m fortunate today to have my client, Rebecca Page, write a guest blog about her family’s recent vacation. Rebecca runs her own successful business at Concierge Home Services, a household management company. As a busy entrepreneur, Rebecca rarely took time off from the business to give herself time to unplug. But she just took a Mediterranean cruise with her family (onboard the MSC Armonia on a 7 night cruise that sailed out of Venice, and covering Italy,Greece, and Montenegro).  The cruise seems to have re-charged her batteries, and re-engergised her for the challenges ahead as a small business owner.

Enjoy her insights – and her photos!

==========

 The thing about being an entrepreneur is that the line between business and personal life is blurred. Or it doesn’t exist at all. I’ve worked on my laptop during family holidays more times than I care to remember. I’ve spent Sundays at the office. New Year’s. I’ve never minded, because it was my choice. And because working on my business is always fun.

Recently, I made a different choice. I took a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday, which had been planned for a very long time. I left the country, and switched off from my business. My VA in Ottawa monitored my email. Auto-responders were set up. Voicemail was changed. Internet access on my iPhone was disabled. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Google.

For the first couple of days, I thought I’d lost something, and was searching through my pockets. Then, I relaxed into the feeling of being disconnected from my business, and trusted that my company would continue without me. I resolved to enjoy every moment of my travels.

Which I did. I enjoyed a gondola ride under a full moon in Venice, fresh organic gelato in Urbino, the magic of the Acropolis of Athens, wine-tasting at a vineyard in Santorini, strong surf and perfect sand in Kefalonia, and a glowing sunset from the Eiffel Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the first time in 9 years that I had taken a real break.

Now that I am back, I feel that I am more productive. My pace slowed down and I’m better able to see what work really needs to be done. I’m less caught up in the little things, and see the big picture. The distance I had from my business has given me better focus on our goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

People say they are so busy that they can’t take time off. Even when work is lots of fun, vacations are better.  And taking some time off may be the best thing you can do for your career or your business.

Rebecca Page is founder of Concierge Home Services, a household management company which helps busy homeowners and professionals relax and have more time. Based in Ottawa, it is expanding  throughout Ontario. She blogs about entrepreneurship and franchising at rebeccapage.ca. Follow her on Twitter at @RebeccaPageCHS.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

New Year’s Eve Cruise – Regent Mariner vs NCL Pride of America

I had a new client recently call me for a quote on NCL’s Pride of America, sailing 7 nights around Hawaii over New Year’s Eve (Dec.31.11). I got him the quote on the cruise for a balcony cabin, which was $4541.54 for 2 adults.  It is a lovely cruise, and a lovely itinerary hitting 4 Hawaiian islands. Of course, that price didn’t include various things (includ air, shore excursions, gratuities, alcohol, etc.).

Then I started talking to the new client to enquire about what they were looking to get from this holiday. I learned that the couple had a special anniversary coming up, they had sailed on NCL before and quite enjoyed the sailing experience, having a balcony was very important to them, they’d prefer to have limited numbers of children onboard, they were very active athletically and wanted to keep very busy onboard the ship (with a running track onboard, but also terrific shore excursions that would enable them to explore new ports of call in depth while still allowing time to explore by themselves), they weren’t tuxedo/ballgown folks but more the casual elegance sort, they enjoyed the spa/water activities/exploring/history tours, they didn’t like having to put their hand in their pocket every five minutes on a holiday – they wanted to know, as closely as possible, how much the trip was going to cost them upfront – so they could budget accordingly, and just go and enjoy themselves onboard.

I went back to the NCL cruise, and sharpened my pencil. Everyone in the industry knows the cost of all the extras on a cruise can double the cost (especially when you add air).  So, I went back over the details on the NCL cruise, and priced out air from Ottawa, and added a couple of nights in a Honolulu hotel, plus shore excursions, alcohol, etc.  All of a sudden, the $4500 cruise was closer to $11,000.  Plus, the client had to spend 2 full days travelling (and his wife was a teacher, with a very fixed travel window), and they were onboard with 2138 other people.

I started to research options, knowing the client thought Hawaii was of interest, but not key.  Given everything I’d learned about the client (special anniversary, all inclusive pricing would be nice, wanted a balcony, was interested in exciting and new ports, wanted active shore excursions, wanted there to not be a lot of children onboad, while still allowing casual elegance without the need to dress up in a tuxedo and ballgown).  One thought kept coming back to me – upscale but not uptight!

And the cruise line that promises upscale but not uptight is Regent Seven Seas!

I found a terrific itinerary on Regent Mariner for roughly the same dates, and with everything tolled, roughly the same price!  Not only was there only 700 onboard this luxury cruise line (rather than 2138), and it had all balcony suites, plus it was a 10 night cuise with a free 1 night pre-cruise hotel, it visited 8 ports (not 4), and it offered all-inclusive pricing – which meant, they offered free unlimited shore excursions,and  included air/gratuities/transfers/alcohol, and a guest to staff ratio of only 1:1.6 (which certainly indicates the level of service clients could expect).  It was perfect! 

http://www.rssc.com/cruises/MAR111227/EYW/2/portsexcursions.aspx 

Plus, we had an added benefit with this Dec.27.11 sailing on the Regent Mariner, my company, Vision 2000, had group promo space on the sailing – which meant I could secure my clients a $400 onboard credit.  AND – the sailing was targeted as a Virtuoso Voyager Group sailing – which meant there was an onboard host, there would be a welcome cocktail party/reception, and the guest could choose a special amenity (either a special Virtuoso led shore excursion in Cozumel, a $125/p credit towards a customized shore excursion, or a $100/p onboard credit).  So, the client could have a $600 onboard credit.

I laid out the pricing and comparison for the client.

ship Regent Mariner NCL Pride of America  
sail date Dec.27.11 Dec.31.11    
embark Fort lauderdale Honolulu    
disembark Fort lauderdale Honolulu    
cruise length 10 7    
# ports visited 8 4    
size ship (guests) 700 2138    
guest: crew 1:1.6                1:2.3    
suite size 301 178    
cruise fare for 2  (excl obc) $11,798.00           $4,541.54    
additional fees onboard cruise        
air for 2 0 2500 est w UA (AC ~$5K)
ground transfers 0 80    
shore excursions 0 1000 est 125/px2x~4d 
1n pre-cruise hotel 0 300 est  
gratuities/ serv. Charges 0 178 est 12/n/p x7nx2
beer/liquor/wine 0 400 est 25/p/d + 15%
water + soft drinks 0 160 est 20/p/d + 15%
alternate dining surcharges 0 60 est 10/p/d
sum additional fees onboard cruise 0 4678    
additional fees for 2 other n Hawaii n/a      
2n extra pre-cruise hotel n/a 600    
food/ drink 3 other days Hawaii n/a 450 est 150/d  
tourist activities Hawaii n/a 300 est 100/d  
additional fees for 2 other n Hawaii n/a 1350    
TOTAL COST OF CRUISE

 (excl $600 obc)$11,798.00

    

$10,569.54

   
  11 nights in total 10 nights in total  
cost/day 1018 1057    

Guess which sailing the client chose?

He’s now booked on the Regent Mariner, and thrilled with the list of shore excursions he can choose from. (There are 10 in Key West alone!)  And for a price that’s pretty comparable to what NCL would come out at, he’s on a luxury cruise line with white glove service, balcony suites, and all inclusive pricing.

Here’s the itinerary.

Route

So, it begs the question.  What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?  If you think Regent might work for you, give me a call. Sheila 613-837-0699

August 3, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising | Leave a comment

Cruise Group Promo Space onboard “Disney Magic” – March Break 2012

Thinking about March break in 2012?  How about a Disney cruise?

I’m holding group promo space on the 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard the Disney Magic that sails on March 10, 2012.

I have a few inside and ocean view for double and triple occupancy, some quad balconies, and a quint balcony.  I only have the space until August 11, 2012.

If you know Disney Cruises, you know that the ships generally sell out – especially in high traffic time, like March break. And as the ship fills/ supply goes down, but the demand continues to increase as more people want to sail, the price of the cabins that remain goes up.  Supply and demand.  So, you’ll not get a Disney cruise for March break next year cheaper than you will right now.

If you’re interested in getting a detailed quote for your family, give me a call. You need only put $250 deposit/person to secure the space, with a final payment of Dec.26.11.  But, with the Canadian dollar doing so strongly right now, you might just want to pay it all off now! See

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/07/21/canadian-dollar-high_n_906281.html

The Disney Magic sails out of Port Canaveral, and after a couple of sea days, you’ll sail to St Maarten, St. Thomas, and Disney’s own island at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.  It’s a terrific itinerary.

Give me a call for more details! Sheila 613-837-0699 or email sheila.gh@vision2000.ca

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Disney Cruise Line – Kids Sail Free to Mexican Riviera

Great news!

Kids 17 and under sail FREE* when traveling with two full-fare Guests in the same verandah stateroom in Categories 4A-6A on most Mexican Riviera sailings from October 30 – December 18, 2011. Government Taxes and Fees not included.

Sailing from Los Angeles, enjoy the beauty and fun of the Baja California and Mexican coasts on a voyage filled with unmatched Disney entertainment, legendary service and magic made for everyone of every age.

Call me for details!  613-837-0699

DCL_KidsSailFree_CaRetail

 

 

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Special Pricing 1st Eastern Caribbean sailing of Disney Fantasy – Apr.21.12

Greetings, Mickey is still overseeing the work of his ship builders on the brand new Disney Fantasy cruise ship. The Fantasy’s maiden voyage isn’t scheduled to take place until Mar.31.12. And, if the excitement and enthusiasm of this year’s Dream (launched in January.11) is any indication, the Fantasy will quickly sell out.

How would you like to check out the new Fantasy? And on its inaugural sailing to the Eastern Caribbean?

Vision 2000 has an exclusive offer for its clients, with special pricing for the Fantasy’s 3rd sailing on April 21, 2012, and it’s very first 7 night sailing of the Eastern Caribbean.

You have to act quickly, though, cause there is limited availablity, and Vision 2000’s special pricing expires on JUNE 3, 2011. Any unsold cabins will then revert to Mickey to sell at prevailing market prices (which will be at least $400 USD more per adult, or $1000 more for a family of 4 in a category 5C deluxe verandah cabin). And, besides the terrific pricing, there may be some other special amenities for Vision 2000 clients…

EXCLUSIVE OFFER for DISNEY FANTASY APRIL 21.12

VISION 2000 SPECIAL PRICING on FIRST 7N EASTERN CARIBBEAN  

Itinerary

[St. Maarten]

[St. Thomas]

[castaway cay]

Featuring

[Aqua Duck water slide]

[Teen Clubs]

[Adult only areas]

Also featuring

[Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique ]

[Aladdin Musical]

[Kids clubs and activities]

Call me for a detailed quote for your family! But don’t wait – this offer is gone on Friday, June.3.11! Sheila Gallant-Halloran Travel Advisor at Vision 2000 Travel Group

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Major Price Reduction on Oceania Cruises – Historic Savings Event

Wow – if you want a HISTORIC SAVINGS EVENT, this is for you!  Oceania Cruises just announced a Major Price Reduction on 2011 & 2012 Sail Dates.  How Major? Up to 75% off Cruise Fares plus Free Airfare!

 Here is a list of sailings to which the new offer applies:

 Sailing Length Ship Departing Embark Debark Current Offer

 Mediterranean Rhapsody   14 Insignia 15-Oct-11 Istanbul Barcelona 2-1, Free Air, $250 SBC pp 2-1, Free Air, $3000 off per stateroom

 Artistic Explorations  10 Insignia 12-Nov-11 Venice Rome 2-1, Free Air, $250 SBC pp 2-1, Free Air, $2000 off per stateroom

 Samba Serenade  12 Insignia 10-Dec-11 Rio Buenos Aires 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $2000 off per stateroom

 Roman Revelations  14 Nautica 1-Oct-11 Istanbul Barcelona 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $3000 off per stateroom

 Timeless Treasures  18 Nautica 4-Nov-11 Athens Dubai 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $3000 off per stateroom

 Lands of Grandeur  30 Nautica 22-Nov-11 Dubai Cape Town 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $4000 off per stateroom

 Sands of Time  12 Marina 19-Sep-11 Istanbul Athens 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $2500 off per stateroom

 Legacies of Antiquity  12 Marina 21-Oct-11 Rome Istanbul 2-1, Free Air, $250 SBC pp 2-1, Free Air, $2500 off per stateroom

 Sands of Time  12 Marina 2-Nov-11 Istanbul Athens 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $2500 off per stateroom

 Splendid Escapes  10 Marina 14-Nov-11 Athens Rome 2-1, Free Air, $250 SBC pp 2-1, Free Air, $2000 off per stateroom

 Sapphire Seas  12 Marina 10-Dec-11 Miami Miami 2-1, Free Air, $250 SBC pp 2-1, Free Air, $2500 off per stateroom

 Ultimate Panama Canal  21 Regatta 9-Sep-11 San Francisco New York 2-1, Free Air, $500 off 2-1, Free Air, $3000 off per stateroom

 Passage to Panama  16 Regatta 30-Nov-11 Miami Los Angeles 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $3000 off per stateroom

 Imperial Interludes  25 Nautica 28-Feb-12 Bangkok Beijing 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $4000 off per stateroom

 Dynasties and Rising Suns  16 Nautica 24-Mar-12 Beijing Hong Kong 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $3000 off per stateroom

 Connoisseur’s Collection  35 Nautica 9-Apr-12 Hong Kong Athens 2-1, Free Air 2-1, Free Air, $4000 off per stateroom

Passage through Panama 18 Regatta 24-May-12 

 South American Splendors  19 Insignia 3-Jan-12

 

This offer is combinable with group amenities (and Vision 2000 has several group contracts). 

The booking window is May 9, 2011 through August 31, 2011 but these cabins won’t last long!

See the flyer and contact me sheila.gh@vision2000.ca or 613-837-0699

 oceania HSEger_color_editable 2 

 

May 14, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising | 1 Comment

Special rates new Disney Fantasy – Apr.21.12 sailing 7n Eastern C

Interested in going on the new Disney Fantasy for a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise? I still have group promo space still blocked for the cruise out of Orlando on the Apr.21,2012 sailing.

I am still holding a few quad (accommodates 4) category 5C ocean view verandah cabins on the new Fantasy for that week. The Fantasy is still being built, so this is your chance to sail onboard a new ship next April.

I had set up the cruise group in March, and pricing outside the group has already increased $1000 for a family of 4, and the cruise is a year away. Cruise pricing works on supply and demand, and as the ship fills, prices continue to rise.  There is a lot of interest in the new Fantasy …so prices will only continue to escalate.

The cruise date is after Easter – April 21.12 for one week. Eastern Caribbean ports of call include St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay (Disney’s island). This is a promo group, so there’s no need to interact/ be with others on the group (unless you want to) – but by setting up a group, I can pass on the advantageous pricing to my clients.

A cruise is a perfect vacation for a group of friends and/or family -you can do as much together or as little together as you want – everyone can go their own way during the day, and just see each other at supper if you’d like (or not… up to everyone’s interests and schedules). Disney Cruises are traditionally family oriented, but there are adult only restaurants as well – as well as teen clubs, etc. – so there is lots for everyone.

Outside the group that I’m holding, the individual space on this same Apr.21.12 Eastern Caribbean sailing on the Fantasy is completely sold out of inside cabins (which means no windows) and ocean view cabins (which means just a window, no balcony).  This sailing only has 5D and 5B balcony cabins available (the 5C s I have on hold are gone in individual sales- 5Cs would be on a higher deck than 5D, but lower than 5B). All this to say, the cheapest cabin (let alone the cheapest balcony) you can buy today from either me and/or Disney right now as an individual cabin (outside the group I’m holding) is a 5D ocean view verandah – but it is at about $900 USD more than the 5C balconies I am holding inside the group.

The group space I have will get recalled very shortly, and I will lose the space I’m holding. So if you’re interested at all, let me know, and I can hold a cabin with names for you without money for 5 days – then you will be required to deposit $250 USD pp to secure, with final payment due Feb.6.12.

Category 5C (deck 7) quad deluxe ov w verandah on hold in group – current pricing: ===> this is what I’m holding

Passenger 1+2:                       1393 + 140 ncf + 71.37 taxes/ adult in USD

Passenger 3+4:                         714  + 140 ncf + 71.37 taxes /person in USD

==>  Quad cabin: $5059.48 USD (this doesn’t include air, vacation insurance, or transfers)

Category 5B (deck ‘8) quad deluxe ov w verandah current individual – current pricing: ==> this is what you’d pay if you called me/ Disney Cruise today for any cabin (outside the group space I have)

Passenger 1+2:                       1813 + 140 ncf + 71.37 taxes

Passenger 3+4:                         805  + 140 ncf + 71.37 taxes

==>  Quad cabin: $6081.48 USD ==> savings of $1022 (for slightly lesser cabin type inside group – deck 8 is higher than deck 7 I have)

Category 5D (deck 6) quad deluxe ov w verandah current individual – current pricing:

1+2:                                            1750 + 140 ncf + 71.37 taxes

3+4:                                              805  + 140 ncf + 71.37 taxes

==>  Quad cabin: $5955.48 USD ==> savings of $896 (for slightly better cabin type inside group – deck 6 is lower than deck 7 I have)

Call me if you’re interested in securing one of this cabins I am holding.   613-837-0699 or email sheila.gh@vision2000.ca

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Cruising with Crystal – Dining at it’s Best

Crystal Cruises are a luxury cruise line. If you’re a foodie, or a wanna be foodie, you really should consider a Crystal Cruise. And, because I am a Virtuoso travel advisor, booking any Crystal Cruise with me entitles you to Virtuoso amenities on every Crystal Cruise.

And if you’re looking to go in 2011, ask me for details on how you can enjoy:

  • 2-For-1 Fares Enjoy 50% savings in all categories on every 2011 sailing.
  • Free Air Fly free in Business or Economy Class on 2011 voyages. 
  • Up to $2,000 per couple in “As You Wish” Spending Credits Receive up to $1,000 per person to spend any way you wish. 

Ask me for details on their 2011 cruises (and/or other specials on 2012 cruises).  Watch this video to see what the Crystal difference is all about.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising | Leave a comment

Professional Associations-Cruising for Continuing Education Requirements

I’ve been helping a couple of professional associations consider how best they deliver their continuing education programming.  Cruising offers an interesting alternative.

Cruising offers a terrific venue for learning, and updating your skills, while still giving you the option to vacation with your family.  Continuing educational requirements could be structured so that you learn during the “at sea” days of your cruise, and families might amuse themselves with various onboard activities. Then, “at port” days are for vacation time.

Generally, cruise ships provide meeting space for groups for free (although advance booking is required to secure space). Cocktail parties, and receptions, etc., can be arranged for pricing that is certainly comparable to land resort costs. And there can be a significant benefit so that the costs of coffee breaks, continental breakfasts, networking luncheons, etc offer significant savings to associations over a comparable land resort. 

In addition, professional associations can structure programming so that it delivers on needed technical, and professional development aspects.

Thinking about continuing education requirements for your association?  Think about cruising!  Give me a call.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising | Leave a comment

Royal Caribbean and Universal Studios Partner Up

Royal Caribbean Cruise line and Universal Studios are partnering up to offer an alternative to the Disney “land and sea”  theme park/ cruise alternative.

See http://www.royalcaribbean.com/universal/ for how you can combine two holidays in one (or give me a call for details).  This is a popular holiday option for families with older teens (or some that just want to alternate between the Disney make-your-own “land and sea” option that is now in existence).

What’s included?

-3/4 night Bahamas OR 7 night Eastern/ Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean

-3/4 day park admission to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

-Enjoy Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens, plus receive free Universal Express ride access to SKIP the regular lines at both Universal theme parks when you stay at one of the three Universal Orlando on-site hotels (paid theme park admission required)

– All transfers throughout your trip

Why should you book the combo?

– less expensive than booking each separately

– easy to book, we take care of everything

– packages can be customized to fit your needs

Call me to book this adventure for the whole family.

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Kids | 2 Comments