Author: Dan Reed

Your Vacation Music Hits List: “Vacation”/”Summer”/”Relaxation”/”Travel” Likely Rank 2nd As A Source For Song Writers’ Inspiration

Nothing has inspired more songs to be written than the concept of “love,” in all of its many aspects. That’s beyond obvious. But the second-greatest inspiration for song writers is not quite so obvious, at least until you do a little digging around on the Internet.

As far as I can tell there’s no actual list of such things, but the notion of “vacation” and its related themes of “summer,” “relaxation” and “travel” certainly are in contention for No. 2 on the all-time music hit list, if there were such a list.

Doubt it? You’ve probably got a vacation-themed song playing you head right now, whether it’s Vacation by The Go-Gos,  Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham and Christmas Vacation by Mavis Staples (both from the wildly popular series of National Lampoon’s Vacation movies) or something a bit less obvious like Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me, or Blake Shelton’s Some Beach.

So why is it that having a great time relaxing away from work and our daily routines plays such a prominent role in the creation of popular music? Because we have great, fond memories of the many great times we’ve had on vacation, relaxing and traveling to new or interesting places and enjoying experiences we rarely or never had before.  And artists want to tap into that emotional energy to engage us.

Here’s a starter list of some of my favorite vacation themed songs.  Please add others in the comments.  Maybe someone will be inspired to make a compilation.

 

See you onboard.

Note: The music and video links included here are meant for your reference and convenience. Some are links to public websites that may include unauthorized, lower quality versions of songs or performances. Others are to commercial music sales sites where you can listen to portions or “samples” of the referenced songs for free. If you download any of songs, please respect the rights of the musicians to receive payment for their work and art by doing so through reputable music retailing sites or the artists’ own web sites.

 

Denali: New Name – Same Grandeur. Plan Now To See “The Great One” In Summer 2016

Denali - North America's highest peak appears to the human eye to be even larger than the much taller Mt. Everest. Because of its mass and 18,000-foot linear rise from the valley below Denali ranks among Earth's largest topographical features

Denali – North America’s highest peak appears to the human eye to be even larger than the much taller Mt. Everest. Because of its mass and 18,000-foot linear rise from the valley below Denali ranks among Earth’s largest topographical features

Some old English guy named Will wrote that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

So now that Mt. McKinley officially has been renamed Denali, maybe it’s a good time to test Shakespeare’s thesis and find out for yourself whether a mountain – a really big mountain – by another name is as just as majestic and awe-inspiring.

Indeed, now’s the time to plan your visit next summer to Denali and the massive, six million-acre Denali National Park and Preserve. The name change, made official by President Barack Obama in early September is heightening American’s – and others’ – desire to visit this amazing American gem. Next year also marks the Centennial anniversary of the National Park system. Accordingly, there will be special celebrations throughout the 2016 tourist season.  And as a result next summer the Denali is expected to host a record number of visitors. So it’s a good idea to make you plans now in order secure the kind of amazing accommodations that can turn your Denali visit in the summer of 2016 into the trip of a lifetime.

Mt. McKinley Princes Lodge, located in Alaska's Mt. McKinley State Park, offers true wilderness retreat with a host of recreational activities, exceptional amenities, and some of the most awesome views of Mt. McKinley.

Mt. McKinley Princes Lodge, located in Alaska’s Mt. McKinley State Park, offers true wilderness retreat with a host of recreational activities, exceptional amenities, and some of the most awesome views of Mt. McKinley.

Denali is North America’s tallest mountain at 20,310 feet above sea level. Less well-known is that Denali is the world’s third-most “prominent” mountain in geologic terms. More noticeably, Denali is one of the world’s “biggest” mountains because of its girth, because it dwarfs several nearby peaks that reach over 14,000 feet, because of its remarkably distinct 18,000-foot linear rise base to peak. For those reasons to the human eye Denali appears to be bigger than almost any mountain on earth – including the 8,000-foot taller Mt. Everest.

In addition to “The Great One” (which is what “Denali” means in the ancient, almost extinct language of the local indigenous people) the whole area is filled with breathtaking vistas, vast forests, wide expanses of tundra and dramatic glaciers. There’s also an abundance of wildlife – bears, caribou, moose, foxes, horned sheep, wolves, wolverines, squirrels, rabbits and other critters, all amazingly adapted for surviving the long, bitterly cold winters. An amazing assortment of similarly-adapted eagles, falcons, swans and other birds also live in the Denali region.

The six million-acre Denali National Park, which will celebrate its Centennial in 2016, is teaming with amazingly adapted wildlife ranging from the largest animals in North America like this bear, to small but hearty critters like snow rabbits and wolverines.

The six million-acre Denali National Park, which will celebrate its Centennial in 2016, is teaming with amazingly adapted wildlife ranging from the largest animals in North America like this bear, to small but hearty critters like snow rabbits and wolverines.

Three of our five North America-based cruise lines – Princess, Carnival, and Holland America – take vacationers north along Alaska’s dramatic southeastern and southern coasts each summer. One of them, Princess, is the gold-standard of Alaskan travel. Not only does Princess offer more Alaskan sailings each year than any other line, its Alaskan Lodges division offers visitors the same world class service and accommodations on land. And three of our five Princess Alaskan Lodges are in the Denali area.

The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is the closest and most comfortable place to stay when visiting Denali National Park. The park entrance is only a mile from our front door. And with its expansive deck overlooking the Nenana River and dramatic views into the park the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is the ideal spot to relax, visit with friends, and savor the exquisite landscape.

South of Denali National Park, in the adjacent and just-as-beautiful Denali State Park on the Chulitna River, we offer the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. It’s a true wilderness retreat with a host of recreational activities, exceptional amenities, and awesome views of Mt. McKinley.

North of the mountain and the park we offer the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge, Fairbank’s most refined hotel. Though it’s a little further away from Denali, Fairbanks, which was founded around the turn of the 20th century by miners consumed with the gold fever, is where the locals say that the real Alaska begins. Visit in the summer and you’ll get to experience the midnight sun even as you stroll through the nearby downtown area and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus. The Lodge also is close to popular attractions such as the El Dorado Gold Mine, the Riverboat Discovery, and Pioneer Park.

Fairbanks Lodge i

The Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge is only a little further away from Denali, but Fairbanks’ most-refined hotel opens up opportunities to explore the old miner’s town, to stroll through the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus under the midnight sun, and to enjoy the fun attractions around the area in addition to soaking in the grandeur of Denali.

Whichever Princess Alaskan Lodge you select you can count on enjoying exceptionally comfortable rooms, warm service, and the best dining Alaska has to offer.

And while you can fly to Fairbanks to enjoy any of these three amazing Princess Alaskan Lodges, the best way to get there is via an Alaskan Land-Sea Vacation package. After sailing north through the inner passage, you will transfer to special domed Princess rail cars for a dramatic ride north through the Alaskan wilderness before reaching the Fairbanks-Denali area and settling in for a few days in North America’s most glorious natural setting.

Princess Land-Sea vacations can include a ride aboard domed railroad cars north from the Pacific coast through the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness and to the Denali-Fairbanks area.

Alaskan Land-Sea vacations can include a ride aboard domed railroad cars north from the Pacific coast through the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness and to the Denali-Fairbanks area.

Just know that whatever way you get there, and whichever Princess Alaskan Lodge you visit, you’re certain to have an incomparable travel experience in Alaska.

PCL in Alaska 7

Three of Carnival Corporation’s five North America-based cruise lines – Princess, Carnival and Holland America – take vacationers to Alaska’s dramatic southeastern and southern coasts each summer. And Princess offers Land-Sea vacations that include visits to one of five Alaskan Wilderness Lodges, three of them in the Denali-Fairbanks area.

Reaching he 20,310-foot high summit of Denali is neither as difficult nor as harrowing as climbing Everest (as depicted in the Everest in theatres now). But climbing Denali still is quite challenging and only should be attempted by serious and experienced mountaineers.

Reaching the 20,310-foot high summit of Denali is neither as difficult nor as harrowing as climbing Everest (as depicted in the movie “Everest” in theatres now). But climbing Denali still is quite challenging and only should be attempted by serious and experienced mountaineers.

What Kind of Reality Are You Going Back To Now That Summer’s Over?

Now that we’ve moved past Labor Day, the traditional end of Summer, we all are dealing with the idea of heading back to work or school and getting back into our normal routines. The expression we all use is “back to reality.”

I think we have it all wrong.

Vacation time is the real “reality.”

That’s when life is most real.  Vacation time is when you get to spend time with family and friends. It’s when you get to see new places in the world, to taste new foods, and to do exciting new things. That’s what life is really all about.

Princess Pool

Whether your reality involves hanging out around some of the coolest pools in the ocean…

romantic2

… quietly watching the beauty of the world slip past with someone special….

That is “reality;” when we truly experience life to its fullest.

So I vote that we stop using the “back to reality” line to describe our return from summer or from vacation. Rather, we should use something like “back to my daily routine.”

“Back to reality” should be what we say about the very real time we spend, and the very real experiences we’ll have while on vacation, or during our less structured, more relaxed, less-structured and refreshing summers.

romantic3

… enjoying a romantic stroll on the deck at dusk…

Seabourn intimacy

… sharing life with intimate friends….

That’s why now, the end of summer, is a great time to begin thinking and dreaming about – and booking – your next vacation. Any of our 10 vacation brands can to take you on a great back-to-reality experience, whether it’s enjoying one of Carnival Cruise’s Fun Ships, coming back new from a Princess Cruise, or making a difference on a social impact/cultural exchange cruise with our newest brand, Fathom.

But whether you take a cruise or choose some other kind of vacation experience, remember to say – and think – “back to reality” before you go, not after you return.

Venice 1

… visiting some of the world’s most famous destinations…

Carnival ship night

…. enjoying exciting evenings in vibrant locales…

Holland horses

… going for long rides along the beach…

cuba-music

… or exploring different cultures and making a difference there, your reality is most real when you’re experiencing life to the fullest.

How You Can Impact The World – And Yourself – By Taking A Vacation… Introducing Fathom, The World’s First Social Impact Travel Brand

A guy checks into a hotel and calls the front desk to request a wake-up call.

The next morning the phone rings: “This is your wake-up call… what are you doing with your life?”

Truth is, no matter your position or place in life – or mine – we all need that kind of “wake-up call” every once in a while.

We follow the same pattern every year. We work, what, 50 weeks a year? Then we take two weeks off to re-charge our batteries. We call it “vacation” because we literally aim to “vacate” – to do nothing but steal back for ourselves some of the precious personal time that we sacrificed to work throughout the previous year.

Well, here’s your wake-up call.

Instead of taking the typical vacation most people take every year, consider doing something different. Maybe it’s time for you to give back a little; to use your “vacation” time to make a difference in someone else’s life – and ultimately in your own life – through the newest trend in travel. It’s called “social impact travel.”

FathomLogo

Social impact travel seeks to blend the relaxation time you desperately need in order to recharge and revitalize your own life with time that you can invest helping others who need your help every bit as desperately as you need a break from your 50-, or whatever-week routine.

Indeed, with the help of experts who can arrange and guide you through such an experience you really can engage in genuine service projects that make a difference in the lives of people who need help. And in doing that you just might discover how strong your perhaps previously unrecognized need to be helpful really is.

And you need not fly half way around the globe to engage in a social impact travel experience. Millions of people live in deep poverty only a few hours from the U.S. coast. The gap between the standard of living in the United States and the standard of living in places like the Dominican Republic or Cuba is shockingly wide. The annual per capita family income in such places is roughly equal to the salary that an American couple would earn during their two weeks of paid vacation.

So, when we at Carnival Corporation & plc. came to recognize and understand both the depth of the needs of people so close to our home country and the strong desire of so many Americans and others to use some of their vacation time to help, we determined to create a vehicle for the world’s best social impact travel experiences. We call it Fathom. It is our 10th global travel brand.

We asked Tara Russell, a talented business leader who has launched and built multiple non-profit organizations to be our corporation's Global Impact Lead and to build Fathom as its founding president.

We asked Tara Russell, a talented business leader who has launched and built multiple non-profit organizations to be our corporation’s Global Impact Lead and to build Fathom as its founding president.

Fathom is all about impact: not just you making an impact on others, but also having your own life significantly impacted in the process. We believe Fathom will address that deep yearning that people have to explore new dimensions of themselves by connecting more profoundly with the lives and stories of others. In fact, we refer to this process of self-discovery with a kind of short-hand: Learn – Immerse – Grow. As you learn about the struggles and needs of other people, and immerse yourself, even if only for a short time, in their lives and conditions, you will experience profound personal growth.

Fathom’s first sailing will be in April 2016 to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Our second destination, just announced, will be Cuba. Though the details of our Cuba cultural immersion trips are not yet complete we expect to begin sailing there in May 2016.  Additional Fathom destinations in the Caribbean ring likely will be added later.

The journey starts by assembling 700 social impact travelers aboard the Adonia at the port of Miami.  As the Adonia sails south at 18 knots, passengers will get to know one another and to learn about the people they will be serving, helping and working side-by-side with in the days ahead.

The Adonia, a part of our P&O subsidiary's fleet, will carry Fathom guests on their social impact journeys

The Adonia, a part of our P&O subsidiary’s fleet, will carry Fathom guests on their social impact journeys

Upon arriving at the destination, Fathom travelers will enjoy the best of both worlds. During the day they will get hands-on, meaningful experience in genuine on-the-ground service projects. At night they will retreat to a comfortable floating, hotel for the kind of food, relaxation and rest that will revive their bodies and spirits and prepare them for another day of service and personal growth in the field.

To make sure your social impact experience is both meaningful and lasting, Fathom is partnering with respected non-government service agencies that have long, rich histories in providing assistance and training to impoverished residents in the places Fathom guests will visit. In the Dominican Republic we are partnering with three such organizations; Entrena, IDDI, and The DREAM Project. Working with such organizations assures that long after you return home, the great work that you were part of will continue through their persistent efforts and those of subsequent Fathom travelers who come to make an impact of their own.

When you book a social impact journey with Fathom plan to spend three or four days on the ground doing hands-on activities such as:

      • Providing clean water – more than three million Dominicans have no access to reliably clean, piped water. Fathom travelers can help in the production and distribution of more than 5,000 clay water filters that will mean fewer children and adults will miss school or work due to water-borne illnesses.
      • Growing things – Fathom guests can participate in something as simple and environmentally pleasing as planting tree seedlings as part of a local reforestation effort, or something more strenuous like the planting or cultivation of local farm and garden crops.
      • Teaching – Spending on education in the Dominican Republic is among the lowest in the world, so few children have the opportunity learn one of the most critical skills for future economic success: the use of basic English. But since most Fathom guests will be native English speakers, they’re already qualified to teach and tutor more than 2,200 students whose lives we expect to touch in the next five years.
      • Empowering women economically – Fathom guests can help a local women’s cooperative cultivate organic cacao plants for sale to chocolatiers, or another group of women to create marketable arts and crafts from recycled paper. In both cases, local women’s incomes and their ability to transact business in English – a critical skill in the Dominican – will be enhanced.

dominican ed1Fathom DR1dominican water filterdominican 2

Not every hour of the day during Fathom guests’ social impact experiences will be devoted to service projects. There’ll be plenty enough free time to sink your toes into the sand on some lush tropical beaches, or to explore the restaurants, bars and shops in wonderful, off-the-beaten-path places like the quiet port of Amber Cove, D.R. Or you can enjoy just wandering through the area, learning on your own about the culture and spending time with local residents.

Of course, after a week of using your hands, hearts and minds to make a difference in the lives of others, you may be tempted to discard the “work-rest-work” pattern of the week and just stay on the island and chill out. But something even better will await you on the final day of your trip. You’ll get to enjoy the pleasures and comfort of the Adonia on your day-long cruise back to Miami. And it’s during that return voyage that you’ll get the critically important opportunity to reflect on the people you met and the lives you touched. And you’ll get to do it along with other Adonia guests – some of whom may have become friends for life as you labored together for a cause greater than yourselves. And it’s here, back on the Adonia where you’ll perfect the stories you’ll share once you get back home.

So, here’s a wake up call that I challenge you to consider seriously: take a social impact trip. Then decide whether the greatest, longest-lasting impact of your trip was made on the people you helped, or on your own soul. My bet is that your answer will be “both.”

“Good day… this is your wake-up call.”

Seeking A Better Work/Life Balance? Cruise North To Alaska And Ask The Bears Yourself How They Do It.

By far, the best work/life balance in the world belongs to Alaskan Bears.  They spend an average of seven months of the year in complete hibernation, then spend their summers fishing in the beautiful Alaskan rivers and enjoying the freshest salmon in the world.

So here’s my advice:  If you’re looking to improve your work/life balance, go and see these Alaskan Bears this summer on an Alaskan cruise.

The majestic, breath-taking natural scenery of Alaska, the sumptuous food and plush accommodations aboard a modern cruise ship, the exotic forms of travel on your land excursions  (seaplanes, dogsleds, kayaks, narrow gauge trains), and the incredible wildlife (including bears, who will be very much awake) make for  a near-perfect combination of soul-enriching excitement and soul-soothing relaxation.

Three of Carnival Corporation’s four North American-based cruise lines – Princess, Holland America, and Carnival – sail multiple times each summer to Alaska. Each offers its own, distinctive itineraries and ways of showing off the magnificence of both the 49th state and their incredible ships, which are more accurately described as floating results.

Carnival passengers get an up-close and personal view of a calving glacier

Carnival passengers get an up-close and personal view of a calving glacier

Carnival ships sail north from Seattle and along the Southeastern Alaska coast all the way to Skagway and the nearby, famous Glacier Bay. Carnival’s Alaskan cruises typically include excursion stops at Juneau, KetchiKan, and Victoria, B.C., Canada. They typically sail through the scenic Inside Passage and the dramatic Tracy Arm Fjord.

Our premium Holland America line offers a variety of Alaskan cruise itineraries, each of which promises to take you deeper, and more slowly and relaxingly into the Alaskan way of life. In roadless Juneau you can go ocean kayaking or fly fishing, ride in a dogsled, or hike trails in the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate rain forest. In tiny Haines you can go rafting on the Chilkat River, hiking in the Takshanuk Mountains, or fishing on Chilkoot Lake. And while you do those things you’ll likely spot bald eagles, moose, bears, wolves, seals, and orcas before returning to the ship for an wonderful dinner and relaxing evening sailing through the land of the midnight sun.

Or you can sail northwest with Holland America to Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula. There, from the middle of College Fjord, you can see eight huge glaciers at once.

Our Princess Cruises line is the gold-standard of Alaskan cruising. And that’s fitting, because each itinerary not only takes you north, but also back in time to the late 19th century, when hardy adventurers journeyed into Alaska and western Canada to dig for gold in the Klondike. Whether it’s a seven-day cruise from Vancouver or Seattle, or a 10-day voyage from San Francisco, you’ll have lots of options to see the well-known, breath-taking sites along the Inside Passage and Southeastern Alaska, or to cruise all the way across the 500-mile wide Gulf of Alaska. There, on the rugged Kenai Peninsula you’ll see its untouched forests stocked with wild game and its chilly, fast-flowing rivers teaming with fish.

Princess also gives you the option to combine the very best of cruising with the very best of land adventure vacation through one of its land-sea vacation packages. In addition to seeing the glaciers and picturesque coastal towns, you can take the Alaska Railroad aboard domed Princess viewing cars to visit Anchorage, Fairbanks and the majestic Denali (or Mt. McKinley), North America’s tallest mountain, in the Denali National Park. You can choose to spend two or more nights in one of Princess’ own, private rustic lodges either in the Fairbanks-Denali area or on the secluded Kenai Peninsula. And Princess will let you experience Alaska the way you want; either as part of a guided tour or on your own.

And, in conjunction with Discovery Networks, Princess now offers the Discovery at Sea program that helps create new, memorable vacation experiences for the whole family. On Alaskan cruises that includes both onboard Discovery activities and off-ship Animal Planet excursions built around the themes of such popular shows as Deadliest Catch (which follows daring commercial fisherman doing their dangerous work in the icy waters off Alaska), MythBusters, and Shark Week.

If you’re not sure exactly how you want to experience Alaska by sea, or how you should go about from learning the secrets to a perfect work/life balance from those Alaskan brown bears you can learn more about that these and other cruising adventures at our World’s Leading Cruise Lines’ website.

And speaking of those bears. Here’s some interesting facts about hibernation – and how you can enjoy both the thrill of exploring wild Alaska and the deep hibernation-like relaxation on an Alaskan cruise.

  • A black bear can gain up to 30 pounds a week during its pre-hibernation eating binge in the summer. Bears need the extra weight to make it through the five to seventh months of sleep.Similarly, you could gain up to 30 pounds during the week of your Alaskan cruise. The food onboard – and on shore – is that good. But don’t worry, our cruise ships are equipped with lots of state-of-the-art gym and exercise equipment. And you’ll be plenty active between all the onboard activities and active onshore excursions.
  • During hibernation the heart rate for many animals slows to less than 10 beats per minute. Breathing also slows. Taking an Alaskan cruise won’t lower your heart and breathing rates that much. But chances are that your Alaskan cruise will do wonders for both your heart, and your soul – lowering the real/figurative beats-per-minute rates of both to a healthier, more relaxed level.
  • A hibernating animal has internal controls that prevent its body temperature from falling too low. If you’re worried about being cold on your Alaskan cruise, don’t be. Alaska in the summer, when we sail there, is quite comfortable. A jacket or sweater is perfect for the daytime. And though nights can get chilly, our ships and our lodges will keep you cozy and dry. And both offer plenty of inspiration and opportunity for you to heat things up with someone special.

See you in Alaska!

How To Get The Biggest Bang For Your Vacation Bucks

Vacation time and money are precious, so why waste them?

Our annual vacation budget study once again concluded that the No. 1 vacation value in the world is – taking a cruise.  Run the numbers yourself; dollar for dollar you get more value for your hard earned money aboard a cruise ship.

Don’t believe me?  Or are you facing skeptics who don’t think a cruise offers the best vacation value? Read on. Then share this blog with those skeptics and your other friends.

We put a mystery shopping team to work booking the most popular vacation options.  We compared the costs of a seven-night vacation in three popular tourist destinations vs. a seven-night Caribbean cruise on one of our nine cruise line brands. Care was taken to compare trips involving comparable accommodations and activities from contemporary to luxury travel industry brands. We weren’t surprised by what we learned. But you may be.

THE NUMBERS

Figuring in typical spending on air and ground transportation, lodging, meals and beverages, plus entertainment we found that the cost of a trip to a contemporary resort in Nassau, Bahamas, was $5,481. The cost of a similar trip to Orlando was $4,899. And a trip to Las Vegas cost $5,332. Meanwhile, a seven-night Caribbean cruise in comparable accommodations aboard a Carnival ship cost $3,378 (or even less than that if you elect to drive to the port rather than fly).

On a per person/per day basis that worked out to $392 for Nassau, $306 for Orlando and $333 for Las Vegas vs. just $241 for the cruise.

Full disclosure: in our comparisons we used our April 2016 cabin prices vs. the land resorts’ April 2015 accommodations prices because we have no way of knowing what their actual prices will be that far in advance. To determine the cost of air travel in each case we used an average of current air fare prices on those routes included in our analysis. We did it this way because we think it’s important to make such comparisons on as much of an “all-in” basis as possible because that helps illustrate the real value available to those who chose a cruise vacation.

I mean, how many of us after a vacation are shocked when we add up all our incidental expenses for meals, attractions, resort fees, and so on? That doesn’t happen after a cruise. Certainly, you’ll buy souvenirs, and perhaps even some nicer items while on a cruise. And you may elect to spend additional money on certain premium excursions or food and drink options. But, unlike most land-based vacations, cruises continue to be priced as all- or nearly-all inclusive vacations.

Trip Compare 2

We also recently compared the cost of a seven-day cruise aboard a luxurious Holland America Line cruise ship with a seven-day trip from Chicago to any of five different Caribbean destinations. It’s important to note that Holland America is one of our more upscale cruise line brands in North America. So you might expect for its prices to top those for comparable land-based vacations – or at the very least that they would be about the same price. But if you thought that, you’ll be surprised by this:

When we searched the cost of a Spring 2015 trip for a family of four traveling from Chicago to Aruba (including air fare and ground transfers) the price was $7,568. Meanwhile that same family of four could have take a Holland America cruise for $2,702 less if they had chosen to stay in a premium Balcony Cabin. That family’s savings would have been even larger if they had chosen an Outside Cabin without a balcony – $3,107. And if they had opted to stay in one of our most affordable Inside Cabins their savings would have totaled $3,302 vs. that $7,568 Aruba land vacation.

Similar value was – and continues to be – available on Holland America trips from just about every major North American city when compared against week-long land-based trips to Cozumel, Punta Cana, Jamaica, and St. Thomas. And in nearly all cases similar percentage savings are available for two adults – traveling without children – who choose a cruise over a land-only vacation to those same vacation destinations.

And, the same is true if you choose to sail aboard one of our other North American cruise line brands like Carnival or Princess Cruise Line, or with one of our other brands serving other regions of the world like P&O, Costa, AIDA or P&O Australia.

Because travel prices change frequently and vary based on day of the week, season and competition, the prices you find when you do your own online shopping likely will be different. But we are pretty confident that you will find similar price differences however and whenever you do your comparison shopping.

Carnival ship 2 Carnival ship night   .

THE VALUE

But value goes well beyond just price comparisons.  So our team made sure that our comparison took into account those things that most matter to people on vacation – things like food, entertainment, seeing the best sites, relaxing, and experiencing new adventures.  A common objection we hear is that by choosing a cruise over a land-only vacation you would be missing some experiences you might have in a land-based vacation. However, because cruise ships move every night, you can have those experiences in multiple locations on a single trip.

So, for example, if you really want time on a great beach like those in Nassau, a Caribbean cruise will take you to several of the world’s very best beaches. The first cruise I mentioned above would take you to the outstanding beaches on Grand Turk Island, Half Moon Cay and Freeport, Bahamas.

Westerdam-Cruise-Ship-2

You want high energy activity like an Orlando theme park? Cruise ships can’t replicate the enormous scale of theme parks, but cruise ships do offer a huge menu of physically active adventures, and great recreation and workout facilities that include everything from volleyball and basketball courts to yoga studios. There’s all sorts of exciting water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling, jet skiing and parasailing, and more relaxing activities like clay shooting, mini-golf and even driving ranges while in port. On top of all that, today’s cruise ships are, in effect, floating world-class spas. And at night you can enjoy fantastic shows, entertainers and clubs that are the equal of anything you’ll find on land, even in Las Vegas.

Carnival fun 1Carnival fun 3

If you want to gamble there actually might not be a better place to do it than aboard a cruise ship. Vegas and Nassau may have lots more tables than any one cruise ship, but nothing beats the gaming tables-per-passenger ratio that you’ll find on cruise ships. That means cruise passengers can get in on more action than gamblers anywhere else.

Carnival gaming

And if sight-seeing, or exploring local culture, art and history is your thing, it’s hard to beat a floating resort that allows you to explore three or four breathtakingly beautiful and exotic locations in a single week.

cruise-destinations-alaska

Then there’s the food. If you’re like most people, when you’re on vacation one of your favorite things to do is eat really well. And you simply can’t beat the world-class food served – at all hours – aboard cruise ships.

My point is this: Vacation time is sacred time. We all need not just time off from work to rest, but time away, in a different, exciting environment where we can really relax and have our spirits revived through new and interesting experiences. But we all also want top value for our vacation dollars. For most of us it makes no sense to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than necessary on a vacation.

And the data clearly show that taking a cruise represents the best vacation value available. It’s how you get the biggest bang for your vacation buck.

See you on the seas.

Do Women Love Cruises Even More Than The Big Game? Research Suggests They Do.

From Seattle to New England and around the country as more than 110 million Americans are preparing to watch the biggest sporting event of the year this Sunday, Feb. 1, around 55 million adults also are beginning to think about their vacations. In fact, our research and experience tell us that 25 million people who will take vacations in the summer months are making their plans right now.

QBs

According to ForbesLife Executive Woman, women play an out-sized role in deciding when, where and how they and their loved ones will spend their vacation time together – making 70% of all travel decisions.

Fortunately, while women tend to do more of the work when it comes to vacation planning, they also get more rewards from a vacation – in the form of relaxation and enjoyment – than do men. That’s true for any type of vacation, but that “reward gap” is widest when it comes to taking a cruise. Make no mistake, men really like cruises, too. But women like everything about cruising by significantly greater margins than do men, according to new research we conducted with 15,000 adults in the United States.

Three of Carnival Corporation’s nine global brands are led by women.  I asked a couple of them why there seems to be such an imbalance between men and women in vacation planning.

“The stress of being a working mom and wife can be pretty relentless. I know my stress doesn’t end just because I leave the office at the end of the day,” says Jan Swartz, President of our Princess Cruises. “That’s why I enjoy going on a cruise. I can almost physically feel that burden being lifted off my shoulders as soon as I walk onboard. I know my children will be well-cared for and supervised while having a great time. And I can unplug and relax with my husband in ways we just can’t at home, or on any other type of vacation.”

romantic3

Recently-appointed Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy also understands, at both the professional and personal level, the special value women get out of a cruise. The one-time travel agent who has more than 30 years of experience as a travel industry executive wasn’t hired because she’s a woman. But her intimate understanding of what women want when they travel means Carnival’s already intense focus on attracting female passengers with accommodations, events and services tailored to their desires will only grow and become more sophisticated.

“I took my honeymoon on a cruise, and I’ve enjoyed a number of cruises with my immediate and extended family and friends over the years,” Duffy says. “The very nature of a cruise appeals to women, and it changes based on who we are traveling with and whether we want to relax or be pampered, visit new places, let our hair down and just have fun.  Having been on cruises when our children were younger and now that they are grown and bringing along their significant others creates a whole new experience for our family. We love the fact that cruising offers something for every stage of life.”

Our research shows that cruising in particular plays well to women’s wants and needs.  Seven out of 10 women who’ve taken at least one cruise say that a cruise provides “a great escape from everyday life and everyday responsibilities.”

For those women whose idea of getting away from the pressures back home includes high voltage activity and adventure today’s ships feature world class workout and sports facilities, nonstop and exciting shipboard activities, and a wide variety of excursions that range from tame strolls through picturesque port towns to more physically-demanding challenges like scuba diving. Today’s cruise ships also are like floating spas that offer everything from exotic beauty treatments and massages to quiet adult-only areas.

Carnival Sunshine

There also a growing number of opportunities for onboard learning at the feet of experts. Top chefs or chocolatiers regularly share their tricks in onboard cooking classes. Sommeliers and master vintners host wine tastings and seminars. Professional dancers teach all the latest moves seen on TV. And world-class academics and thought leaders share their knowledge and insight on special themed cruises.

At night, of course, cruise ships feature 5-star resort food and beverages, dancing, casinos, dazzling entertainment and the romance of sailing quietly and elegantly under the moon and stars.

So, not only do we know that women take highly active roles in planning vacations, we increasingly know the many reasons why. And armed with that knowledge we’re busy evolving our accommodations and services so that the already great vacation value we offer becomes an ever-better way to give women – and men – the meaningful and memorable relief from stress that they crave.

Though our individual cruise lines are frequent advertisers, our parent company, Carnival Corporation will launch our first-ever ad campaign this Sunday during the Big Game. Several of the potential ads that we could run during the game are squarely aimed at women.  We filmed four potential ads and will decide which one to run based on research that includes a marketing challenge at WorldsLeadingCruseLines.com. Because nearly half of this year’s viewers of pro football’s title game this year will be women the target audience is perfect for us.

Now we need your help.  We are asking you to vote for the one ad you think we should run.  Two of these ads are aimed squarely at women (one features a young girl discovering the romance of cruising; the other a woman going to extremes to escape the pressures of everyday life and experience and enjoy exotic life on a cruise). A third has a more edgy, humorous cross-gender appeal. The fourth is an intriguing “mystery spot”. See them here – The Carnival Marketing Challenge – and vote (as many times as you want) for your favorite.

One name will be drawn from among all those who vote for the winning spot and will win a free cruise each year for the rest of their life.  Whether that name is a man or a woman, we are sure they and their guest of choice will enjoy the experience of a free cruise every year for life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                

WOMEN LIKE CRUISES EVEN MORE THAN DO MEN

                                                                                                                       Male    Female     Dif.

Helps me feel like every detail is taken care of                                            55%       64%         9%

Is a great way to discover new destinations                                                52%       61%         9%

Exposes me to experiences I had never had before                                    51%       59%         8%

Provides a great escape from everyday life and responsibilities                61%      71%         11%  

Source: Survey of 15,000 Adults in the USA who have been on at least one cruise. Scores represent percentage of respondents who “Strongly Agreed” or “Very Strongly Agreed” with the statement. Fall 2014, Carnival Corporation & PLC

An (Almost) Existential Question Before You Leave On Vacation or a Business Trip

“To Out of Office or Not to Out of Office, that is the question.”

For some people the answer is an easy “Yes,” or “No.” Either way, they know where they stand. But for more of us than you probably realize, the use/non-use of out-of-the-office messages (OOOs) borders on being an existential question.

The best OOO message I have ever seen features the perpetually handsome Sean Connery in the picture on this blog. Under the two pictures of the seemingly ageless actor dated 1989 and 2009 the email OOO message reads: “I am on vacation in an attempt to slow the speed of my aging process to that of Sean Connery. I will return in two weeks and I hope to look exactly the same.”

out of office photo 2

There actually is, however, a somewhat serious ongoing debate about whether using an “out-of-the-office” notice when you leave the office is a good idea.

One school of thought argues that OOOs should be turned on any time you are out of reach for more than a few hours. You do it as a courtesy to those trying to reach you and/or as a defense against losing business while you’re away. That equals good will won or maintained. And if you’re paid on commission, your customers may be more likely to wait patiently for your return rather than place a quick call to your competitor.

But the other school of thought says that using OOOs is a sign of executive weakness, neediness or, worse, lack of commitment. C-suite executives, after all, almost never use OOOs. They have assistants who handle their calls and screen their emails when they’re away. Thus, your use of an OOO calls attention to the fact that you aren’t all that important within your organization, or you’d have a live person handling your calls and email while you’re away.

Too Honest OOO Message

As for me, if I really need to be out-of-pocket for a deep refresh, then I’ll put an out-of-the-office message on my phone and email. But normally I don’t because I am not a big OOOs person. I use them only when I know that I’m going to be really out of touch for more than one day in a row, or 12 business hours. If I think I’ll have e-mail access every 6 to 8 hours, even while on vacation, then I don’t use one.

Of course, having now said that, I think I’d like to see more people use OOOs. It could help foster more corporate cultures that understand, accept and support the need of workers to unplug, get out of today’s 24/7 business mindset, and escape into the amazingly beautiful and stimulating world that too often we overlook because of our preoccupation with work.

Now I’d like to know what you think. Do you use OOOs? Why or why not? And I’d love to see some examples of good – and some maybe not-so-good or just plain funny – OOOs you’ve used or encountered. What are your guidelines for when to use/not use OOOs? Does your company have a policy on the use of OOOs? And what tips can you share that could make the OOOs more effective, more engaging, funnier, or maybe just more acceptable as a way to protect our time when unavailable?

 

 

Top 5 excuses to not take your vacation

me timeI just got a look at a new report from the U.S. Travel Association about its recent survey of 1,300 American employees’ and business leaders’ attitudes about the use of their earned vacation time. And I think you’ll find some of the results surprising and fascinating – and maybe even eye-opening.

First, nearly everyone (96%) agrees that using one’s earned personal time off – PTO – is important. Yet four in 10 American workers (41%) don’t use some or all of their annual PTO. And 37% say that they leave some of their PTO on the table because it’s just so hard to actually use it all.

The surprising thing about it is that in many cases it is American workers themselves who make it so hard to take their PTO. They do it by convincing themselves that they are more important or critical to their company’s operation than really is the case, or that their absence somehow will make them vulnerable. The USTA’s survey results show that:

  1. 40% of American workers say they don’t us some or any of their PTO because they don’t want to face “a mountain of work” upon their return.
  2. 35% say it’s because “nobody else can do the work while I’m away.”
  3. 28% say they don’t use all their PTO because they want to demonstrate just how dedicated they are.
  4. 33% say they don’t use all their PTO because they “can’t afford” to do so
  5. 22% went further by saying they worry that taking time off might give their bosses the idea that they are replaceable.

mound of workindispensable

In many cases such concerns are unfounded. They are the result of workers own imaginations or insecurities. Mature, well-balanced employees –and their bosses/employers – understand that time away from work makes them more productive and efficient, happier and more fulfilled, and more creative when they are at work

Unfortunately, in some cases unhealthy corporate cultures do create pressures that make it difficult for workers to use all, or even any of their earned time off.

  • 48% of U.S. workers say their company culture neither encourages nor discourages the use of PTO, leaving some of them to wonder whether taking time off will hurt their careers.
  • 31% say that although PTO typically is defined as an employee-controlled benefit their bosses/companies have effective control over when – or whether – they can take their PTO.
  • 20% say their company’s culture is a barrier to their using all of their PTO.
  • 19% report that their companies send mixed signals or actively discourage them from using PTO.

Each of those perceptions – accurate or not – can be, and should be addressed by wiser, clearer and/or more frequent positive communication from enterprise leaders, from the CEO down to the line supervisor. The goal should be to create a culture that encourages employees to use their PTO as a way of assuring that they are regularly able to bring their “A” games to work. A relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated employee who maintains a healthy work/life balance makes for a happier, more creative and more productive worker.

Take a look at the report on the US Travel’s website. What’s your excuse for not taking vacation?

Vacation Unplugged: Leave the Phone at Home

 

Mobile technology has come so far, so fast that hundreds of millions now actually miss the proverbial forest for the trees – or, more specifically, they miss the grandeur of the Taj Mahal for a silly selfie, or the immense beauty of the Grand Canyon for a mere video game.

It’s a thoroughly modern quandary: do you take the picture/shoot the video, or do you experience the moment? Perhaps the most famous illustration of how big an issue this has become today is pair of famous photos tweeted out last year by NBC News.

The first showed a crowd gathered in a part of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City as Pope John Paul II’s body was carried across the square into the Basilica for public viewing on April 4, 2005. In the second, a very similar crowd is shown in almost the exact same location as they watched Pope Francis speak for the first time after his election on March 13, 2013. The most striking difference: thousands of people in the 2013 shot are holding their cell phone cameras aloft to capture the moment on silicone memory chips; in the 2005 photo nearly all of the faithful are trusting their own eyes – and their ears and noses and other senses – to capture the event in their own, remarkably vivid memories.

We at Carnival Corporation see this growing phenomenon all the time. As you can imagine, many of our customers increasingly want to access their technology while at sea. So we are investing millions of dollars to bring technologies like the Internet, wifi and video streaming to our more than 100 ships sailing under 9 different brand names. Yet more and more we’re seeing our guests seemingly miss the fact that they’re aboard fabulous, state-of-the-art ships that feature all sorts of fantastic restaurants and entertainment, and that visit some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Instead they are choosing – probably without really thinking much about it – to see those things primarily through a very limited lens or a tiny video monitor rather than to experience them in all their fullness and splendor via their five senses?

I understand the desire to share photos with others back home. And I get it that in this age of social media lots of people can show the world how creative or funny they can be by filming their own little movie shorts. But by over-using technology we are diminishing our own experiences. So here are some suggestions from someone who spends pretty much all of his time thinking about ways we can create better life experiences for our guests:

  1. Put the technology away during family dinners on vacation. Maybe one photo together at the table is appropriate for remembering the event later on. But your actual memory of the dinner will be more vivid and visceral if you spend time talking, sharing and laughing together rather than texting or checking email and social media. Leave the phones in the room or cabin.
  2. Record beautiful sights in your mind’s eye rather than on silicone memory chips. How did it feel? What did you smell at that moment? Was it sunny and warm, or cold and foggy? Despite the technical advances in photography, no photo or video can completely capture the visual – and visceral – details that your eyes and other senses can take in.
  3. Go old school: use a map instead of GPS, especially when traveling with children. Use the map to plan your trip in advance, focusing on the sights you want to see along the way. Discuss the history or the geography or other important subjects related to what you’ll be seeing trip. Appoint a human navigator to provide driving directions based on landmarks rather than digital data.
  4. Use your time waiting in line well. Waiting in line is almost unavoidable on vacation. Instead of checking email, or letting your kids play video games, converse, play games, tell silly jokes, look around, people watch.
  5. Resist the temptation to turn on the video player for long car rides. Play car games. Talk. Sing. Read books. Encourage the kids to draw and color pictures of things they’re seeing along the road. Count license plates. Just don’t let the kids put on headphones and check-out while “checking in.”

My point is that while today’s digital communications and camera technology are really amazing, they can cause you to miss out on fully experiencing many beautiful and amazing things in the world around us, including the friends and family with whom we travel. Merely going somewhere isn’t the real point of traveling, of vacationing or of being at big events. The point is to experience those things, and you can do that best with you own five senses.