Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

5 reasons why a cruise vacation beats a land-based vacation!

May 16, 2017

Now that summer is upon us, the kids will be asking you about the family vacation!

Sure, land-based amusement parks are great, but here are 5 reasons you should consider a cruise vacation!



1) Nearby. If you live in Florida, you are probably only a few hours drive away from a cruise port! You can leave from Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Miami or Fort Lauderdale! Don’t take it for granted that it’s a few hours drive! Many cruise passengers fly from New York, the MidWest or even from overseas to enjoy a cruise vacation from Florida!




2) Family friendly! One of the best things about a cruise is that the ship covers all the bases from seniors to babies! Ethyl and George will enjoy a a pre-dinner cocktail in one of the many bars, Mom and Dad will enjoy the adults-only serenity area, casino and shopping while the kids will have a blast in the kids club! Boom!



3) The food. Yup. When you consider a land-based vacation, food ain’t cheap! When you’re on a cruise, most of the food (except in the specialty restaurants) is 100% free! Little Timmy can eat all the chicken nuggets he can eat, little Brittany can eat 100 ice cream cones a day, and Mom and Dad can have an intimate romantic dinner in the steak house! (Don’t forget to grab a Guy’s burger on most Carnival ships!)



4) Unpacking only once. You just can’t beat it that you wake up in a different port, especially on those longer cruises; Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba, St Thomas, San Juan. The list can go on and on. Even on those shorter cruises you can enjoy Nassau and even the award winning private island Half Moon Cay!



5) Total Relaxation. During the duration of the cruise, you won’t have to cook, clean, take out the trash, empty the kitty litter box, make the bed, answer the phone or set your alarm clock for work the next day. In addition, you can go to the gym to keep your blood pumping because you want to make sure you don’t gain weight on the cruise!


Why use a travel agent?

April 17, 2017

Back in my day, you could find a travel agent on every corner, but due to technology, many of them have been driven out of business.

Many consumers are now going online to big travel websites in the hopes of saving each and ever cent on their cruise.

The fact of the matter is you can book through one of those sites every day, but what happens when you have 10,230 questions?

Is this the right ship for me? Will my kids like it? Where does the ship go? 

Mostly likely, travel agents like myself have probably sailed on the ship you are considering for your cruise vacation!

Here’s the dealio:

  1. A travel agent wants your repeat business and word of mouth advertising, so he (or she) will go out of their way to make sure you have a great vacation.
  2.  A travel agent will answer each and everyone of your questions.
  3. A travel agent will answer questions you would never think of asking!
  4. A travel agent will recommend travel insurance so that you won’t have any surprises.
  5. A travel agent will save you money and help you get the best deal and freebies.

So it’s up to you. All I ask is that you not call a travel agent and ask your questions only to hang up after you’ve spent an hour on the phone.

The travel agent is counting on your business if you take the time to call him, and it’s just plain wrong to get all that free info only to turn around and jump on a travel website and book it there with 3 clicks of the mouse.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @scottlara1961 and click on the link to my YouTube channel on the right for all my cruise related videos.




As Summer Approaches, it’s time to cruise!

April 6, 2017

I’ve been a travel agent for over 10 years, and I have to say that 2017 is a very different than years past.

Many new and exciting ships are on the way, but most of them will be carrying thousands of passengers each, which makes the cruise experience less traditional than “back in MY day!”


Back in my day, the cruise experience seemed to be more elegant. Fewer kids running wild, better service, better food and fewer people.

Today you have people getting up at 4:30 a.m. to reserve prime deck chairs, you have kids running wild while parents are nowhere to be found, and it’s more difficult to get a table for two.



While my wife and I will cruise in 2017, we will be more selective on which ships we travel on, but there are days I long for the good old days.


Want to win a free cruise?

March 15, 2017

Check out this post from my friend at Cruise Radio!

You could win a free cruise!

Who’s in?

Enter for a Chance to Win a Seven Night Caribbean Cruise

It’s time to cruise

March 13, 2017

As spring approaches, many people will be looking to sail on the high seas.

Unfortunately, most cruises are more expensive than they were just a few short years ago.

As cruise lines build more ships to fill, the cruise lines have to pay for those multi-million dollar ships!

Sure, you will see more nickle and diming on cruise ships which include specialty restaurants, photos, 3D theaters, etc.

To get the best price, send me an email at and let me know what dates you are considering.

I will be happy to get you the best price and I will give you the best service!




Tips for staying healthy during your cruise vacation

June 15, 2016

Yeah, we’ve all heard it in the news.

Another ship struck with the dreaded norovirus.

The truth of the matter is that many passengers may be sick before they even leave for their cruise vacation!

When you arrive at the cruise port, you will probably receive a Public Health Questionnaire that you have to fill out and sign.

Here are the questions:

  1. Within the last 3 days, have you or any person listed above developed any symptoms of diarrhea or vomiting? Yes or No?
  2. Do you, or any person listed above, have a fever or feverishness PLUS any ONE of the following additional symptoms: cough, runny nose or sore throat? Yes or No?

Now riddle me this Batman:

You’ve taken off precious time from work. Little Timmy and Brittany are out of school and the wife has been counting down the days to your cruise for over 6 months…are you REALLY going to check YES to any of those questions?????


That’s one of the major reasons why people get sick on cruises.

People are already sick (or getting sick) when they board, and it’s very contagious.

Have you seen the movie Contagion? Rent it.

Don't watch alone!

Don’t watch alone!

The minute you touch a railing, or the handle of the one armed bandit in the casino, or roll snake eyes at the craps table, etc, you are spreading your illness.

Consider you are on a floating hotel with thousands of people in close proximity to each other. A contagious disease spreads faster than…well…you can finish that sentence.

Get the picture?

Now do you get it?

So how can you prevent or lessen the effects of being sick on a cruise?


Step 1. Stay healthy BEFORE your cruise vacation!

Lots of people take Vitamin C and other health supplements to boost their immune system. If you aren’t doing that now, then start because you need a strong immune system to stay healthy.

Step 2. Buy travel insurance. 

In the unlikely event you do get sick, you will be heading straight to the medical center on the ship for treatment…and it’s NOT FREE. Sure, you may have to pay out of pocket up front, but you will be reimbursed for your out of pocket expenses when you get back. Save all receipts and be sure to read all the fine print on your travel insurance documentation!

Step 3. Buy health supplies BEFORE you sail.

Get Imodium AD, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol and other supplies at your local WalMart or Target and pack them in your carry on bag. You don’t want to be sick and have to run to the ship’s store to purchase these items. They cost quite a bit more on board the ship, and who knows, if lots of people are sick, you may be out of luck!

Step 4. Practice safe habits

Yes. Guys are notorious for not washing their hands after they use the restroom. It’s critical that you wash your hands frequently with warm soapy water vigorously for over 20 seconds. Sure, you will see hand sanitizers all over the ship, but that does not replace washing your hands frequently.

Happy Happy, Washy Washy!

Happy Happy, Washy Washy!

So in conclusion, the best way to have a fun and healthy cruise vacation is to strengthen your immune system before your cruise, buy travel insurance, purchase supplies ahead of time and wash your hands!

If you are interested in sailing on a cruise, email me at and I will give you the best price and service.

Also, check out my YouTube channel for all my cruise videos:

Scott Lara @scottlara1961 on Twitter

The facts about cruise ship transfers

May 18, 2016


We’ve all heard that it’s best to arrive at your cruise port at least one day prior to your cruise.

Trust me, I’ve heard many stories of people who have missed their cruise due to unforeseen circumstances; a traffic disaster on I95, it was snowing in Chicago so the plane was delayed, or little Timmy got the mumps.

Also, consider the stress placed on Dad who has spent thousands of dollars for this vacation, only for it to be ruined.

The one topic I thought that I would never have a problem with was transfers offered by the cruise line.

Keep in mind that flight times may change, so if you have purchased transfers with the cruise line, you need to check their specific policy to see when you can in fact cancel those transfers and not be charged.

You would think that you change them up to 48 hours prior to your cruise, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

So lesson learned.

If your travel plans change at the last minute, you may be stuck with the transfers you purchased with the cruise line.

It’s time to cruise!

May 9, 2016


Now that summer has arrived though out the country, it’s time return to the sea.

Unfortunately, consumers are fed a lot of misinformation and that’s why travel agents are so important.

Many times people look at websites and see what we in the industry call “the cruise rate”.

Cruise websites give these bare bones prices to lure people into buying a cruise.

Then when you add up all the extras (taxes, NCF’s, gratuities and other fees), then you realize what the true cost of the cruise really is!

When you receive a quote or purchase a ticket for a cruise, there normally up to 5 components to the price:

1) Room or Voyage fare (the cost/fare for the stateroom/cabin)
2) Non-commissionable fees (NCF)
3) Governmental taxes and fees
4) Gratuities (optional, but depends on the cruise line)
5) Travel insurance (optional)

The most confusing component is “non-commissionable fees.” What does “non-comm,” “non-commissionable,” or “NCF” fees mean? They are called “non-commissionable fees” (NFC) because the travel agent is not paid a commission on those fees. Several years ago, the Federal Trade Commission required cruise lines to list all “non-commissionable fees” in the price they advertise – in other words, they are supposed to tell you the entire price for the cruise (room/voyage fare + non-commissionable fees + governmental taxes and fees). The purpose of the FTC order was to make sure the customers understood the true cost of their cruise.

Unfortunately, “non-commissionable fees” is not a very consumer friendly term, and can be used by cruise lines to merely bump up their profits. These fees typically include port fees, but can include any other fee the cruise line wants to include, such as administrative fees, or fees related to services provided while in ports (piloting fees, stevedores, waste disposal, immigration fees, etc.). You won’t normally see the “non-commissionable fees” broken down or listed, and there are not any requirements or limitations on what a cruise line can or cannot include in the fee. In all honesty, NCFs can be whatever the cruise line wants. The only requirement is that it must be disclosed to the customer.

Some travel agencies merely list NCFs as “port fees,” but this is not correct, and it can lead to confusion and frustration. For instance, if your NCFs were labeled as “port fees” of $150 for your cruise, but unfortunately a hurricane prevented you from visiting any port, you would expect to get your $150 “port fees” back. Bad news, you won’t. NCFs are not “port fees” but may include port fees.

So please remember, when you are considering a cruise, don’t be mislead by those low numbers you see on cruise websites.

Call your trusted travel agent to get the true price!

Top 5 annoying cruise ship sounds!

February 9, 2016
I don’t know about you, but when I go on a cruise, I want to rest and relax!
Me taking a nap on the Holland America Line MS Maasdam!

Me taking a nap on the Holland America Line MS Maasdam!

In most cases, especially when there are a lot of kids on board, you may not be getting the peace and quiet you’ve been waiting for on your cruise vacation.
Make no mistake, I’m not Mr. Wilson who lived next door to Dennis the Menace, but if I’m paying for a restful cruise, I don’t want to hear the following annoying cruise ship sounds. Do You?
1. The noise of slamming doors
You know it, I know it and the American people know it! Nothing is more annoying than the loud sounds of balcony doors, bathroom doors, cabin, dresser and closet doors and the mack daddy of them all, the sound of that plastic toilet seat slamming shut!
I fail to understand why people slam doors.
It’s one thing if your ship is sailing in 40 foot seas with 80 mph gale force winds outside your balcony, but when a balcony door loudly slams shut in port, I have to ask myself what the heck.
Sure, the cruise lines could invest more money into equipment that will close the door safely and whisper quiet, but passengers should be more sensitive to their neighbors by closing all doors quietly!
         door3 door2 door
2. The noise of the people in the cabin next to you
How many times have your heard the couple next door yelling and screaming at each other? Remember the time when you heard kids jumping on the beds and talking loudly in that cabin next door while Mom and Dad were no where to be found? How about the time when you heard the honeymoon couple in the next cabin celebrating their wedding vows all hours of the day and night?
Keep in mind that the walls of your cabin are paper thin, so chance are if you hear them, then they can hear you!
If you are annoyed by loud sounds from the next cabin, politely knock on their door and ask them to hold the noise down. If they don’t comply, call security!
courtesy of Happy Marriage

courtesy of Happy Marriage

3. Unaccompanied brats running down those long halls!
Parents. Try this at home. Ask little Timmy to take out the trash or clean his room. Will he jump up and do it immediately. I’m waiting! Right. He’s glued to his video game on his LeapPad. But the same little Timmy from Pensacola, Florida has no problem running up and down those LONG halls several times a day.
On one recent cruise, I let the brat run up and down the hall the first two days just to get his energy out. On the third day I saw him laughing and running down the hall with his dad slowing walking down the hall behind him with a big smile on his face.
“Hey buddy, from one dad to another, can you ask your son not to run down the hall?” I politely stated.
“Who the hell are YOU to spoil my son’s vacation!!!!” was the calm, polite response I got from the father.
Now back in MY day, that father would have been embarrassed and he would have demanded his son apologize to me!
Welcome to 2016.
Courtesy of

Courtesy of

4. The noise of the ocean hitting upside the ship
Hello Kmart shoppers, I’ve got a news flash! You are on a ship at sea!
Listen, I’ve been there. My wife and I have had a cabin down on deck 3 with a port hole window and we heard the sound of the ocean outside our window.
While it’s romantic at first, that sound can get annoying real quick, especially at 2 a.m.
If you don’t want to hear the sound of the ocean outside, then spring for a balcony cabin up on deck 8.
Problem solved.
Courtesy of

Courtesy of

5. The noise from a club, casino or main show lounge
This is precisely why you book with a travel agent and not some online site where you don’t talk to a human being.
A professional travel agent knows the cabins that will be near these loud venues!
Keep in mind that on many ships, the parties go long into the night, so if you’re hoping to hit the hay at 9 p.m, good luck unless you have ear plugs!
You will be wide awake hearing 80’s music, rock and roll or some Blake Shelton country tunes at midnight or later!
Have you heard any of these annoying sounds on your cruise? What tips do you have to enjoy a restful cruise vacation?
Courtesy of

Courtesy of

What would you do if YOU won the $1.3 billion Powerball lottery?

January 11, 2016

Sure, you’re chances of winning is 1 in 292 million, but who says you can’t dream!

Here’s 5 suggestions if you win big:

1. Full ship charter.

This would only set you back a cool million, but you could bring all your friends and family! Since you have some extra coin, hire Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift to entertain your guests!

2. Book a World Cruise.

There are several cruise lines that offer world cruises. You can see the world and the best thing is that you unpack only once!

3. The World

Have you heard of The World Cruise ship? You actually own the cabin as a piece of real estate that you can pass on to your dependents!

4. Buy your own yacht.

If you crave privacy, buy a yacht just like Jaguars owner Shad Khan. When you aren’t on it off the coast of St. Barts, you can rent it out!!!

5. Live on a cruise ship…for the rest of your life.

Remember the story of the lady who lives on a Celebrity ship? You could basically buy a cabin for the rest of your life (cheaper than the price of a nursing home!) Your grandkids could visit you for a week and send them back home to their parents.

Anyway you look at it, you wont be stuck in an inside cabin anymore!!!