J5Travel has experienced strong growth since the turn of the year and this is in no small way attributable to our new affiliated membership of Virtuoso. Our clients are starting to experience the difference this can mean to their precious vacation time.
With hotels, we are able to offer complimentary breakfast, resort credits, airport transfers and even special experiences at hundreds of hotels worldwide that are not available through any other channel. Both us as your advisor, and you as the clients are somewhat privileged to have this access.
I think though, there may be a gap in our communication, because the Virtuoso reach extends way beyond hotels. This week I'd like to focus on cruises, and let you know that if you are booking a premium to luxury level cruise directly with the cruise line, not only are you missing out on the exceptional personal service from us from day one to after your return, but you are also giving up valuable amenities on your voyage. We book the exact same price you see, but can add a significant amount of value to your sailing. This is applicable to hundred of cruises, again worldwide. Here's just a sample of 5 great cruises sailing later this year, with amenities worth getting out of bed for.
TOP 5 Amenities at Sea
1. Regent Seven Seas Mariner - 8 days, Seward to Vancouver, August 2019
A wonderful Alaska cruise on Regent's intimate 350 all-suite, all-balcony ship (below).
There are 4 Virtuoso-only complimentary amenities to choose from and my personal choice would be the exclusive to Virtuoso travelers "Alaska's Taste of Wild Harvest" shore excursion in Juneau.
Discover the foragers, fisherfolk, and farmers behind Alaska’s cuisine. You'll meet the captain of a commercial fishing boat and peer in on the lifestyle of an Alaskan fishing family. Tour the living quarters and learn about sustainable salmon harvesting, and then select fresh salmon from the onboard ice cooler to take to your cooking class.
2. Crystal Serenity - 14 days, The Holy Land and Greek Isles, October 2019
A delightful itinerary on Crystal's small luxury vessel and 4 Virtuoso amenities to choose from with a minimum value of $250 per person. The first stop on this itinerary is Sorrento, and for anyone who has attempted to drive around the Amalfi Coast, you will know that it is no fun whatsoever for the driver, as all you want to do is look sideways out the window the whole time. One of your choices is for a private driver for 6 hours with pick up and drop off from the ship. Your driver will help custom tailor the days itinerary to see what most interests you – from sightseeing and shopping, to the best place to enjoy lunch and a glass of wine. Don't miss out on Positano (below).
3. Paul Gauguin - 8 days, Society Islands and Tahiti, September 2019
Paul Gauguin are the go-to luxury cruise line for all things South Pacific. On this cruise alone you will stop in Papeete, Huahine, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Moorea (below). At that last port of call you can experience another complimentary Virtuoso amenity, a 6 hour "Deeper into Paradise" shore excursion. Eight jagged peaks draped in lush greenery make Moorea an extra-gorgeous French Polynesian island. You'll begin in Opunohu Bay, newly designated as a national park, and then head to the Opunohu Valley, the central heart of the island, where you can enjoy the spectacular view from the Belvedere lookout. You’ll drive on via back roads to see more of the interior and some of the agricultural crops, and emerge at the coast via the village of Pao Pao at Cook’s Bay. This immersive day winds down with a relaxing lunch at the lovely seaside Moorea Beach Café, before heading back to the ship.
4. Serenade of the Seas - 17 days, Copenhagen to Boston, August 2019
It's not just aboard the small luxury ships that the benefits we can offer are available. On almost all Royal Caribbean sailings, when booking a Junior Suite or above, we can provide a complimentary specialty dining experience for 2, as well as a spa treatment thrown in for good measure, though our tip is not to schedule a massage straight after the dinner. I also love this itinerary! An exciting repositioning cruise that has stops in Denmark, Norway, Scotland, 3 days in Iceland (below), Greenland and Canada.
5. Queen Mary 2 (below) - 8 days, Westbound Transatlantic, November 2019
For the elegant traditionalists among us, Cunard's transatlantic non-stop crossings remain extremely popular. In recent years the cruise line has buoyed their popularity with various themes, whether it be jazz, or literature, and with great success. With these sailings the extra value we can add includes a specialty dining credit and private transfers from Central London or Heathrow Airport to Southampton (that's a long ride), and from Brooklyn Pier to an NYC airport or Manhattan hotel.