Today’s photo is from our three-month stay in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the post here.
Yesterday, I received the following message from a long-time reader, Pam, as follows:
“Dear Jess & Tom,
My husband and I are 70, and I’m beginning to think that cruising may be our best travel option as our mobility is becoming more limited. The research and planning are also mostly done by me, which can be a bit exhausting. We flew to Vegas in April and rented a car for an 8-day road trip to Bryce, Zion, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon. We saw some amazingly beautiful sights, but walking even short distances was very difficult for me, especially in the higher altitudes. We spent much time just touring from the car and the tour buses. So I think that cruising may be easier for us. We have only cruised twice. The first time was 1999 (eek!!! Really that long ago?) Western Caribbean, which we aren’t interested in doing again. The second was in 2012 (wow, time flies!) to Alaska, which was wonderful. Both on NCL. We aren’t fancy and kind of like their freestyle cruising.
I know that you have recommended Vacations To Go in the past, so just wondering if you still do. Also would welcome your thoughts on Costco Travel, United Cruises, or just booking directly with the cruise line. I also recall that Tom has a website that alerts him when prices go down, but I can’t remember which one. Could you kindly remind me? We would love to cruise the Med, but I read a comment on a YouTube video that said if you have any mobility issues, it may be difficult.
Just wondered if you would be willing to share your thoughts. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Thank you, Pam, for writing! It’s lovely to hear from you, and we’re thrilled to hear you are considering cruising again. I am relisting your questions below (for ease of reading), and we will answer them individually.
- I know that you have recommended Vacations To Go in the past, so just wondering if you still do. Also would welcome your thoughts on Costco Travel, United Cruises, or just booking directly with the cruise line.
Answer: We prefer using Costco to book cruises and car rentals. (Annual membership is required). Their prices and perks for cruises are the same as most other cruise booking agencies. However, through Costco, you will receive gift cards (shop cards) each time you book a cruise, which motivated us to use them. Unfortunately, reaching them by phone to book a cruise or ask questions subsequently is awful. You can wait on the phone for an hour or more; contacting them by email is sketchy at best. This fact alone prompted us to return to Vacations to Go, which we’ve used for years. Our rep is Heather. She can be reached here:
Master Cruise Counselor, Luxury and Multi-Cabin Specialist
Vacations To Go (16 Years)
My office hours: Mon-Fri: 11 am-8 pm (US Central Time)
US and Canada: 1-800-338-4962 ext. 7317
For toll-free numbers from other countries, click here.”
With us booking cruises while out of the country with huge time zone differences at times, having easy access to our booking company is important to us. Heather is very responsive and quickly responds to emails and phone calls. Please tell her we sent you. We don’t receive any remuneration for referring you to her, but we love sharing good service with our readers.
We’ve never used United Cruises and rarely have booked directly through a cruise line. They are also hard to reach and don’t have better pricing or service.
2. I also recall that Tom has a website that alerts him when prices go down, but I can’t remember which one. Could you kindly remind me?
Answer: Mainly, Tom has used Cruisecritic.com at this link that takes you directly to their cruise roll call, where you can enter the cruise you’ll be taking and see if there have been price drops. If there is a price drop (only applicable to passengers from the US and Canada), only prior to the final payment, you can find the information there and then contact your cruise booking company and ask them to lower your price. This has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. But you must carefully analyze if the price drop is beneficial for you since you may lose some perks if you take the price drop. Your booking agent will provide you with this information
(You must sign up for a free account at Cruise Critic here to see the roll call for each cruise. It’s straightforward to do so).
3. .We would love to cruise the Med, but I read a comment on a YouTube video that said if you have any mobility issues, it may be difficult.
Answer: We sailed in the Mediterranean on three occasions. At many ports of call, walking can be long and up and down hills at times. However, many easy-access “Hop On Hop Off” buses are available at the various ports, taxis, and vans you can arrange to take you to see the highlights. It’s essential to negotiate a price for taxis before you embark on such private means of transportation. “Hop On, Hop Off” buses have a fixed price for passengers, which is usually reasonable. In these cases, you can decide if you want to get off the bus or taxi and walk around or not. You will still see plenty.
We hope these answers help you decide what may work for you. Please feel free to contact us at any time with more questions. We’re always happy to help!
Photo from ten years ago today, July 19, 2013: