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Update Added: 02-25-2015|
It has been a pretty mellow week here in the office……It’s nice to be home for a long stretch of time!
NanSea and all of her South America and Antarctica explorers just returned yesterday from their adventure down south. NanSea reported that everyone had a great time and that they saw TONS of wildlife in Antarctica. She told me about a whale that breached right next to the ship and sprayed water all over. Apparently one of our group members was out on her balcony and got sprayed by the whale! The group ended their tour in Buenos Aires with a city tour and then a nighttime dinner and tango show. On their last day, they went to an “estancia” (farm) and played with the animals, saw a “gaucho” show and had a huge barbeque dinner, with an Argentine folkloric show before going to the airport.
February Update Added: 02-03-2015|
Greetings from gray and gloomy Lynnwood, Washington. I am finally going to be home for a solid month…….and I picked February in Seattle…..oh well!
I flew back to Seattle on Saturday night with a big part of the group. Even our Seattle group members flew home on several flights but we all seemed to land in Seattle at the exact same time! I decided last Tuesday that, rather than flying home and then flying back three days later, I would just stay in New Orleans and wait for my group to return. I was at the pier bright and early on Saturday morning to greet our returning cruisers. Some of the people got on buses for a city tour and then to the airport. Those with the earlier flights, who already had their city tour before the cruise, went straight to the airport.
Everyone coming off the cruise reported having a great time. They did have to skip the private island, Coco Cay, due to the high winds but otherwise, they had a great time……especially since the ship was short 700 guests……there were no lines or waiting for anything and the service was incredible!
Now I’m home until March 8th, when I fly down to Phoenix to cheer on the Mariners in Spring Training!
Alan Update Added: 11-21-2014|
Today I am writing to you from aboard my flight from Seattle to Houston. I will connect to a flight going to New Orleans, where I will meet the nearly 400 members of our group who will be coming off of the Serenade of the Seas, after their trans-Atlantic cruise from Spain.
Today I will tell you about my time in Spain, meeting the same group, before their cruise, that I will be meeting tomorrow, after their cruise.
After getting the last of my group off to their flights from Hong Kong to the U.S. and Canada, I had lunch with my local tour operator in Hong Kong. It was a good time to evaluate our whole program and to talk about our next trip to Hong Kong. After lunch, I checked in for my non-stop flight to Beijing. I had a nice flight, followed by a 3 connecting time. Just after midnight, I boarded my plane for the 14-hour non-stop flight from Beijing to Madrid. Upon arrival in Madrid, I caught a taxi to my hotel. Fortunately, my hotel had a room ready for me, even though I arrived early in the morning. After checking in, I had a long, hot shower and a nice long nap! I got up in the late afternoon and set up a new e-mail address and wrote to my friend, Keith, who is a computer genius. I had been locked out of my e-mail account for a week as Yahoo was certain that my account had been “hacked after, within a week, I logged in from Seattle, Vancouver, at sea, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. After trying everything for a week, Keith was able to re-set my e-mail account in a matter of minutes. THANKS KEITH!
My next day was a free day to enjoy Madrid on my own. The next morning brought an early start as I headed back to the airport to meet the first early morning arrivals. We gathered everyone at the airport and then boarded our bus for our Madrid city tour. We toured the center of Madrid and had a stop at a big public market for shopping and lunch. We then got everyone checked in at the hotel, where everyone had some free time. That evening, we all gathered for a big “welcome dinner”, in one of the hotel’s restaurants.
The next day, we had a free morning. After enjoying the hotel’s HUGE breakfast buffet, some from the group went shopping, some went to one of the near-by museums, like the Prado, and others just relaxed. That afternoon, we went to one of my favorite Spanish cities, Toledo. We had a walking tour though Toledo, visiting the old basilica and the old synagogue. At the end of our walking tour through this old, walled city, we crossed the St. Martin Bridge, where our buses were waiting for us. We then drove back to Madrid, stopping for a great Spanish dinner at a restaurant located inside some caves!
The following day, we had a full-day tour to the 11th century walled cities of Avila and Segovia. We had a walking tour of each city, visiting their major buildings and cathedrals…..and even a fortress. After our tour, we returned to the hotel for a bit of time to freshen up. We then went to one of the city’s most popular restaurants for another great Spanish dinner (and some good Spanish wine!).
The next day was our last day in Madrid. We prepared our luggage early, for the long, all-day truck ride from Madrid to Barcelona. Mid-morning, we met our guides and drove to the Royal Palace, were we had a tour. The Spanish Royal Palaces is always one of the most beautiful and interesting palaces in the world. We then toured a bit more of the city before driving down Madrid’s busiest street, the Gran Via, to our restaurant, where we had a huge tapas lunch, with some good Spanish wine. We then went to the train station, where we would board our high-speed “Ave” train, to take us to Barcelona. As we were traveling in “Preferente Class”, we were served another hot lunch along with wine, snacks, and cocktails! Upon our arrival into Barcelona, we were met and taken to our hotel for check-in. Everyone was pleased to see that their luggage was already waiting for them in their rooms! After getting everyone settled in, I met my cousins, who were escorting the 3-night pre-cruise group. They were in the middle of dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, so I joined them for a glass of wine!
Next week, I will tell you about my time in Barcelona.
Happy Thanksgiving Added: 11-19-2014|
Today I am pleased to be writing to you from my office in sunny, but chilly, Lynnwood, Washington!
I realized that I haven’t yet told you about my adventures during my “around the world trek” from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, to Madrid, to Barcelona, and back to Seattle……I still have jet lag!
Anyway, I arrived in Hong Kong on the evening of Wednesday, October 22nd. The following morning, I was at the pier, bright and early, to meet my group coming off of the ms Amsterdam. They had sailed on the ms Amsterdam on a 31-day segment of the Grand Asia Cruise from Seattle to Hong Kong.
As everyone came off the ship, we had them identify their luggage, which was left at the pier to be transported to our hotel in Hong Kong, where we would be the following day. Meanwhile, everyone took their overnight bag and boarded our coaches for the short ride to the Hong Kong Island Ferry Terminal, where we boarded our high-speed Jetcat for our ride across the South China Sea to Macau. Just as Hong Kong had gone back from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, Macau went back from Portugal to China in 1999. I have been to Macau many times, but it has been four years since I have been there. The changes in Macau during the last four years were so significant that I could barely recognize the place. The big American casino companies, like MGM, Wynn, Sands, Venetian, and more had moved in, in a big way, each building a bigger and better hotel and casino complex.
Upon arrival in Macau, we went to the Macau Tower for a huge buffet lunch from the highest viewpoint in Macau. We then continued on a city tour, seeing the newer parts of Macau. Our tour ended at the largest Sheraton Hotel in the world, with over 4000 rooms. Here we checked-in and had some free time to freshen up, relax, and/or explore. That evening we all met at the hotel’s “Feast” buffet for another huge meal. After dinner, some (including me) just went to bed, while others tried their luck in the casino or explored on their own.
The next day we had a free morning to enjoy the hotel’s breakfast buffet and time to relax or explore, we boarded our same buses, with our same guides and began our tour of the older parts of Macau, seeing more of the city’s Portuguese influence. We toured a Taoist Temple, the façade of the old church, and the narrow streets. We had a big Portuguese lunch at a traditional restaurant. After lunch we went to the ferry terminal, where we boarded our high-speed Jetcat back to Hong Kong. That evening we checked into our hotel and had the rest of the evening at leisure.
The next day we had a morning walking tour of the area around our hotel. The tour included time to visit a tailor shop and an optical shop. Many in the group (including me) had eyeglasses made and some (including me) had a fitting for a suit or other custom clothing. That afternoon we had a Kowloon tour, visiting some of the top areas in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Peninsula, including a huge Taoist Temple complex, a nunnery, and Hong Kong’s famous “Bird Street” and wholesale flower market. That evening we gathered for a huge 10-course Chinese banquet dinner.
The next day was a big day. We left in the late morning for a very full-day Hong Kong Island tour. Our day started by boarding a sampan for a boat ride through the Aberdeen Harbor. Our sampan ride ended at Jumbo Floating Restaurant, where we had a big dim sum lunch. We then took the shuttle boat back to our buses and proceed on our tour of the Island. We then went to Repulse Bay for some time on the beach and in the statue gardens. We then went to Stanley Market, where we had some free time for shopping and exploring. Our last stop was at Victoria Peak. We rode the Victoria Peak Tram to the top. We then had a big “Western Style” dinner at Bubba Gump’s Seafood Company! After dinner we had a bit of free time to enjoy the views of Hong Kong at night, before returning to our hotel.
The next day was our last full day in Hong Kong. Some of the group took an optional tour to Lantau Island. The rest of the group enjoyed a free day in Hong Kong. Some went exploring and/or visited some of the nearby museums. Everyone went shopping! That evening we boarded a dinner cruise boat for a ride around Hong Kong Island. During the ride, while enjoying all of the lights and sights of Hong Kong, we had a huge feast and some great musical entertainment. Almost everyone went out on deck to see the “Symphony of Lights”, where lasers lit up all of the big buildings on both the Kowloon side and the Island side of Hong Kong. After the dinner cruise, we returned to the hotel for our last night in Hong Kong.
The next morning, after one last breakfast buffet at the hotel, we began our transfers to the Hong Kong International Airport for everyone’s return flights. I was the last to leave to the airport for my continued trek around the world…..headed for Spain! Next week, I’ll tell you all about Spain!
Happy Halloween! Added: 10-31-2014|
Happy Halloween and Greetings from sunny Madrid, Spain!
It’s hard to believe that it’s already November……and that means the holiday season is just around the corner!
I’ll write again next week with a full report on Hong Kong and Macau…..and a bit of my adventures in Spain!
Update from Northern Europe Added: 08-13-2014|
I am writing to you today from Stavanger, Norway. We’re not supposed to be here now…..but I’ll tell you about that next week.
When I wrote to you last time, we were enjoying a day at sea aboard the Eurodam. It was a well-deserved day of rest after several days in a row in our different ports of call.
After a day on the ship, enjoying all of the ships services, amenities and entertainment, we docked in the early morning in Warnemunde, Germany. This was a long day for our group doing the full day tour into Berlin. We did have a great day seeing many of the famous sites in Berlin. So much history has happened in our lifetime in Berlin, and it is a real treat to see some of these famous sites with our own eyes. After the three-hour ride into Berlin we saw places like the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Cathedral, and much more. We had a big German lunch with some good German beer while being entertained by a German band. Our guides taking us to Berlin were fantastic, as were our Berlin guides that we met in the city. When we returned to the ship, there was a huge Biergarten set up on the ship’s Lido deck with all kinds of German food and a German band!
The next day we were woke up in another German port, Kiel, Germany. From Kiel we had an excursion to the nearby town of Lubeck, Germany. We had a nice tour through this old city, on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We had a walking tour through this medieval city, once known as the “Queen of the Hanseatic League”. At the end of the tour, we had a chance to put a message in a bottle and send it off into the North Sea!
The following day we docked in Gothenburg, Sweden. This was my first visit to Gothenburg and it was fantastic. Actually, we will visit Gothenburg again on the next leg of our cruise. We had a half-day tour in Gothenburg, visiting this city that was founded back in 1621. We had a nice panoramic tour of the city visiting many of the city’s famous sites and icons. A highlight of our tour was a boat tour through the city on our “Paddan Boat”. This boat tour took us through the heart of the city and under many of the city’s bridges, including the famous “Cheese Slicer Bridge”, where we all had to sit on the floor of the boat to make the clearance under the bridge!
The following day was another day in port in Copenhagen, Denmark. Today we had a tour to the nearby fishing village of Fragoer. This quaint old fishing village was a nice change of pace after all of our tours in the big cities on our itinerary. Actually, we started our tour with a drive through Copenhagen, to give us a peak at this big city. We then made our way to the countryside to Dragoer. In Dragoer, we had a walking tour through the village’s cobblestoned streets, seeing all of the historic homes and businesses. We also had a stop at one of the town’s local restaurants for some coffee or tea with a good Danish pastry and some free time to wander on our own. We then returned to Copenhagen, where some in the group opted to remain in the city and others returned to the Eurodam. We remained in Copenhagen overnight and had another day, the following day to enjoy Wonderful Copenhagen!
The following day was our second day in Copenhagen. That day was a free day for most of our group. NanSea and I had a Copenhagen city tour for our group that would not be spending time in Copenhagen after the cruise. We did the complete city tour including a one-hour canal cruise through the canals of Copenhagen. That afternoon we re-boarded the Eurodam and met the new cruisers that had just boarded the ship that day. I’ll tell you about the rest of our cruise next week!
Hello from Northern Europe Added: 08-05-2014|
Hello from somewhere between Estonia and Germany. We are FINALLY having a day at sea, so I can catch you up on my current trip. When I write to you next time I’ll catch you up on everything that’s happened in between my Alaska cruise/tour and my current Northern Europe trip aboard Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam, including my 7-day cruise to Alaska aboard the Grand Princess.
Last Wednesday, I flew from Seattle to Stockholm, Sweden. I arrived in Stockholm early on Thursday morning. After clearing Customs, I caught a taxi to my hotel, right in the center of Stockholm.
The next morning I was up bright and early and I took the express train back to the airport. Around 7:00 AM, our groups started to arrive, as did my colleague, NanSea. Along with our local tour operators in Stockholm, we met all of the groups and put them on buses to the hotel. Although the rooms weren’t yet ready for those coming in on the early flights, the hotel stored the luggage so people could go out and explore a bit. Throughout the day we made several trips to and from the airport, meeting and picking up the new arrivals.
Friday we all had a free morning, and everyone enjoyed the hotel’s huge breakfast buffet, featuring, of course, Swedish pancakes and Swedish meatballs! Meanwhile, we had 94 more people arriving for our one-night pre-cruise package.
That afternoon, those on the two-night package left for our tour to the ancient cities of Upsuland and Sigtuna. After returning to Stockholm, all of our buses met at the Skansen Open-Air Museum, where we had a big dinner in the museum’s banquet hall. After dinner, we returned to the hotel. Even though it was getting to be late in the evening, the sun was still shining bright! We had beautiful weather in Stockholm……in fact, it was unusually hot…..getting up to the mid-90’s.
On Sunday, we were getting ready for our transfers from the hotels to the pier when, all of a sudden, grey clouds moved in and it began raining. By the time we were getting close to the pier, the skies opened up and rain came in buckets and the wind started howling. By the time we arrived at the pier, all of the power had been knocked out at the pier. The computers didn’t work and they couldn’t check anyone in or even do security checks! The problem was solved by moving all of the check-in onboard the ship. While there were delays, we eventually all got on the ship and settled in.
Sunday night we remained in Stockholm, as scheduled, and Monday was another full day In Stockholm. We had a tour that day for the group, touring the city and visiting the City Hall and the Vasa Museum. By mid-afternoon we returned to the ship, in time for the ship’s emergency drill and then we sailed away from Stockholm, heading for St. Petersburg, Russia.
Tuesday was a day at-sea, sailing towards Russia. This gave us a day to discover our home for the next 19 days, Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam.
We arrived early Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg for our two-day stay. That morning our group had a city sightseeing tour including a tour of Russia’s famous art museum, the Hermitage. I have been to the Hermitage many times and I’m always impressed. I’m not sure what I enjoy more…..the art collection or the building itself. That evening we had a tour of St. Petersburg by night (although it was still fully bright outside) and a performance of a great Russian Folkloric show.
Thursday was a very full day with a tour to both Pushkin and Peterhof. Both of these estates are beyond words, as are their grounds and gardens. We had incredible guides, who were with us all day. We got back to the ship just in-time for our sail-away…..actually a bit after…..but they waited for us!
Friday morning we docked early in Helsinki, Finland. Our regular guides were waiting for us, to take us on a tour of this beautiful, modern city.
Yesterday we arrived early at one of my favorite ports on this itinerary, Tallinn, Estonia. We arrived in the morning and our buses were waiting to take us on a tour of the magical city of Tallinn. We first visited Tallinn’s Song Festival Grounds, where they say that the country sang their way into freedom. We then rode our coaches to the Upper Old City, where we visited the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the City Overlook. We then began our trek through the city gates into the Lower Old City. We visited the Town Square and made our way to my favorite restaurant in Tallinn, housed in an old warehouse, where we enjoyed a medieval lunch by candlelight. We then had some additional touring before some free time in the Old City. We returned to the ship in the late afternoon for our sail-away.
Today, after several days in port, with big tours each day, we are finally enjoying another day at sea. This is giving us time to rest up and get ready for our upcoming ports of call…..and to absorb all of the experiences we have had over the last several days!
Alan in Alaska Added: 07-09-2014|
Greetings from the Alaskan Inside Passage. We will be docked in Juneau in just about an hour. In Juneau we have a city and Mendenhall Glacier tour planned for the whole group. Before I tell you about this trip, I want to finish telling you about our Alaska cruise/tour that I just finished.
When I left off, we were sailing out of Glacier Bay National Park. The following day we were “at sea”, cruising across the Gulf of Alaska. That day turned out to be a great day for seeing whales and other sea life. On Sunday morning, we docked bright and early in Seward Alaska. After breakfast on the ship, our group began boarding buses for a ride across the Alaska Interior, heading north to Denali National Park. The tour was a 10-hour ride going across the interior. We had great driver/guides who gave narration along the way. We also had a stop at some scenic view-points both in the morning and the afternoon. We also stopped mid-day in Wasilla for a very nice lunch, which was included. We arrived at our hotel, the McKinley Chalets in the early evening. After getting settled into our rooms, we all had vouchers for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
The next morning was a free morning. Some people signed up for some of the optional “adventure” tours while most of the group just enjoyed a relaxing morning and/or some shopping time in Denali’s gift shops. That afternoon, we boarded buses for the full-day “Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour” taking us deep into Denali National Park. The buses returned late into the night (some of the buses didn’t return until 11:00 PM….but it was still lots of daylight outside!). Each group had a different story to tell about their tours but everyone saw bear, moose, mountain goats and more during their tours. That night there was “daylight” all night!
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel. Mid-morning we boarded buses for the very short transfer to the train station where we boarded the McKinley Explorer Rail Cars for our train ride from Denali to Anchorage. I have written before about the McKinley Explorer Rail Cars. Each car is double-decker, with all of the passenger seating in the domed upper level. There is a guide in each car giving narration along with a bartender to serve anything from coffee to cocktails right to your seat. We had included lunch for the whole group in the train’s diner on the lower level. We were brought down in groups for an amazing white-linen lunch! That evening we arrived in Anchorage where the buses were waiting for us. hotel. Before boarding the bus for the short ride to the hotel, everyone was given their room key packet for the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we were able to go straight to our rooms where all of our luggage was waiting!
On Wednesday, we had four departures from the hotel, based on the flight times. Everyone boarded a bus for an Anchorage city tour. After the tour we were dropped off at the airport for our return flights home. After I returned from Anchorage, I had nine days at home before leaving for another cruise to Alaska!
Alan Update 7/3/2014 Added: 07-09-2014|
I am sitting here in sunny Seattle getting ready for the 4th of July holiday. This past Sunday we had two large groups heading north to Alaska. One group was on the Grand Princess, doing a 7-day cruise from Seattle to Alaska. The other group left on the same Alaska cruise/tour that I just returned from, doing a 7-day cruise from Seattle to Seward and then a 4-day land tour to Denali and Anchorage. On Sunday I will be leaving with an even bigger group aboard the Grand Princess from Seattle to Alaska and back.
South Pacific & Australia Added: 10-18-2013|
Hello from aboard the ms Oosterdam, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! The weather is beautiful, the seas are calm and is everyone is enjoying a relaxing day at sea.
Last week, I had a short ride from my home to Seattle’s Pier 91. The check-in was very quick as only half of the ship’s passengers were boarding in Seattle…..The rest would board a few days later in Los Angeles. At the pier I met up with my colleagues, Kathryn and “Double L” Allan. We then put our things down in our staterooms and got to work, meeting with the Maitre d’, the activities manager, guest relations manager, and others, re-confirming all of the arrangements for our group. We then started to deliver all of our “welcome aboard” letters to all of the staterooms in our group. After the ship’s emergency drill, the Captain came on the public address system and announced that due to the big storm in the Pacific, we would remain in Seattle overnight. By then, the rain was coming down in sheets…..but we all enjoyed a nice evening aboard the ship!
The next morning at 9:00 AM, the Captain announced that we would sail at 12:00 Noon, which we did. The ship had everything tied down and we were ready for rough seas. That night, although there were high winds, the ship rode beautifully and we had a relatively calm night. By the morning, the winds had died down as we sailed down the West Coast, heading towards Los Angeles. We had two full days at sea sailing down the coast. On Thursday morning we arrived in Los Angeles, arriving one day late. We were able to move our Los Angeles tour one day later. Our group had a great tour in Los Angeles visiting Alivera Street, Rodeo Drive, the Chinese Theatre, and the Farmer’s Market. That evening we began our four-day crossing from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Actually, that night the seas were a bit rough and the winds were strong but our ship handled the weather perfectly…..but we did feel the motion! The other three days, sailing to Hawaii, were fantastic. The days have been full with lectures, activities, some pampering, and just enjoying the ship and the nice weather.
We were supposed to arrive in Hilo, on the Big Island, on Monday but we were a day behind schedule. Our dock in Hilo was not available on Tuesday so we went to Lahaina, on Maui, instead. This was just as well as the main activity in Hilo is a visit to Volcanoes National Park, which was closed due to the U.S. Government closures. Once the new schedule was announced, we got to work in changing the tours that we would be offering in Lahaina and in Honolulu. We were supposed to spend two days in Honolulu but it was decided to change this to one night, putting us back “on schedule”. On top of everything else, Pearl Harbor was closed due to the closures, so we had to re-do that tour as well. It all came out well and during our crossing from Los Angeles to Maui, we worked out all of the details and changed all of the tickets for the excursions.
On Tuesday, we arrived early in the morning in Lahaina. Our group was the first group off of the ship, and we were quickly tendered ashore. Our coaches and guides were waiting for us ashore and we quickly loaded up and began our tour. Our tour took us to the Iao Valley, the Maui Tropical Plantation, and to Whaler’s Village. We then returned to Lahaina, where we had the rest of the afternoon for shopping and exploring. Some even stayed in town for dinner, while others returned to the ship for dinner and then went back into town for a bit in the evening. It was a great day! Next week I will tell you about our day in Honolulu and our trek across the Pacific!
Off to Australia Added: 10-02-2013|
Today I am writing to you from aboard the ms Oosterdam, sailing somewhere along the Oregon Coast. On Sunday, Kathryn, “Double L” Allan, and I boarded the Oosterdam at Seattle’s Pier 91 in Seattle. The weather was rainy and windy but the boarding went very quickly and easily. After our safety drill, the captain made an announcement telling us that due to the stormy weather in the Pacific, we would delay our departure until Monday morning. On Monday morning, Captain announced that we would sail at 12 noon. We did sail at noon and made our way north through Puget Sound and into the Pacific Ocean. The weather was stormy but the ship handled the seas very well. We bounced around a bit but it wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected. This afternoon the wind and the sea swells subsided a bit and the sun even came out. We are now sailing on to Los Angeles, but we will arrive in L.A. a day late. All is well and our group of 500 Travel With Alan travelers are all very happy here aboard the Oosterdam. After L.A., we will sail on to Hawaii and the South Pacific and then on to Australia…..it should be a great voyage! I will update you as our voyage progresses.
Alan Update Added: 08-01-2013|
Today I am writing to you from the Lido Restaurant, aboard the ms Eurodam, somewhere between Waterford, Ireland and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Today is our last full day on the cruise. The excellent weather that has followed us the entire cruise has left us today, but that’s okay…..it’s a day at sea and the seas are calm!
When I wrote to you last week, I told you about our stay in Copenhagen and all about our cruise up until the port in Stockholm, Sweden. After Stockholm, we finally had a day at sea. This was very welcomed after five days in a row in port with excursions every day. Some in our group took advantage of all of the events and activities aboard the ship, while others just enjoyed a day of rest and relaxation and all of the service and pampering aboard the Eurodam.
The next day, Thursday, we arrived early in the morning in Warnemunde, Germany. That day was a long day for us….but a great day. We left Warnemunde early for our excursion into Berlin. We had a nice ride through the countryside of the former East Germany on our way into Berlin with our local escorts from Warnemude giving us some commentary along the way. Upon our arrival into Berlin, we met our local guides, who were with us the entire time in the city. Our tour took us to many of Berlin’s major icons. Mid-day, we enjoyed a huge German lunch, with a good German beer! After more touring, we had a bit of free time before returning to the ship in Warnemunde. We covered a lot of ground in the twelve hours that we had…..everyone really enjoyed the tour. We returned to the ship to find the huge “Bierfest” that the ship had put on by the pool deck. There was German food of all kinds including some great salads, several kinds of sausages and smoked fish and much more. They even had a large German band, to keep us in the mood. We had a late sail-away after a long, full day!
On Friday, we were already in our next port, Kiel, Germany. We had a great tour that day traveling from Kiel to Hamburg. Hamburg is an impressive Hanseatic city. Once again, we had great tour guides traveling with us from the pier in Kiel to Hamburg. Upon arrival in Hamburg, we toured the city both from the bus and aboard a river cruise through the heart of the city. At the end of the tour, we had some free time for shopping in the city center before returning to the Eurodam.
Update from Alan Added: 07-25-2013|
Hello from Bergen, Norway. It is yet another beautiful, sunny day…..the weather during this entire cruise has been nothing less than perfect!
We have been very busy during our tour and cruise. Our Northern Europe cruise has been very port intensive. Actually, we are doing two cruises “back to back”. During the first segment of our cruise, a 10-day “Baltic Capitals” cruise, we had only one day at sea. The other days were all full days in port with long tours each day. We are now on our 12-day “Norwegian Fjords and British Isles” cruise. This segment has three days at sea!
I flew from Seattle to Copenhagen one day ahead of the group. This gave me time to get settled in and be sure that everything was set for our group arrivals. I was at the airport early in the morning to meet the members of our two-night pre-cruise package. We transferred to our hotel and got everyone checked-in. Throughout the day, new members of the group continued to arrive. The rest of the day was a free day.
The next day we had a Copenhagen city tour, with local guides. Our tour ended at the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, right in the heart of Copenhagen. We then had shuttle buses to take everyone back to the hotel, at their leisure. Since it was a beautiful day and the hotel was about a mile away, many opted to just walk back to the hotel. Meanwhile, NanSea arrived in Copenhagen and met everyone who was arriving for the one-night pre-cruise package. That evening, the members of our two-night package transferred to a brewery/restaurant right across from Tivoli. We took over the entire restaurant and had a great dinner. After dinner we took everyone back to the hotel, although some members of the group decided to return to Tivoli to see the park all lit up at night.
The next day, July 10th, everyone transferred to the pier to board the ms Eurodam. Meanwhile more members of our group, those that did not take one of our pre-cruise packages, continued to arrive at the airport throughout the morning and early afternoon. By 4:00 PM, all 278 members of our group were onboard the Eurodam and by 5:00 PM, we were sailing away from Copenhagen, heading into the Baltic for the first part of our adventure!
The next day we were at sea. I always like it when the first day of the cruise is a sea day. It gives us all a chance to get settled into our new “home away from home”. In this case, it also gave us a chance to get rested up for the next five days in a row of intensive touring at our upcoming ports of call.
On July 12th, we arrived in one of my favorite Baltic ports, Tallinn, Estonia. I like taking groups to Tallinn because everyone in the group has no idea what to expect and everyone ends up very pleasantly surprised. Although Estonia was part of the former Soviet Union, the people there have always had a strong sense of pride for their own country. The guides there are always genuinely excited to show off their country and their city. We left the pier and toured the Upper City before walking into the old, walled Lower City. There we had a huge, medieval, candle-lit lunch in a restaurant that was once a Hanseatic warehouse. We then continued our walking tour before re-joining our bus and returning to the ship.
The next morning, we arrived early in St. Petersburg, Russia, where we would stay for two full days. Our first order of business, after disembarking the ship, was to pass individually through Russian Immigration. This is always an “experience”! We then boarded our coaches for our tour of the city and the Hermitage Museum. That evening we had another tour to see a Russian folkloric show. This show is always a “crowd pleaser”. You can’t help getting into the spirit of this high energy show of Russian music and dancing. The next day, we had a full-day tour visiting two huge palaces of former Russian tsars. We visited Catherine’s Palace in the morning, touring the palace and the grounds. We then went to a restaurant for a Russian lunch. In the afternoon we visited Peterhof, touring the palace, featuring amazing grounds and fountains. We then returned to the ship to relax and rest-up for our upcoming ports.
The next morning we arrived in the port of Helsinki, Finland. Helsinki is a beautiful, modern city. Fortunately, the good weather continued to shine upon us……very lucky! Everyone enjoyed the city tour including the Rock Church and the Public Market. It was nice to have a shorter tour that day with some free time to enjoy the city in the afternoon! The next day we were in Stockholm, Sweden. I always like visiting Stockholm since it is an interesting combination of a modern city sitting next to an old, walled city. It was yet another beautiful day and we had a great tour. Our groups visited the historic City Hall, where the Nobel Prize banquet is hosted every year. We also visited the Vasa Museum, a museum built around the old Swedish war ship that sunk just after being launched and was recovered from the muddy bottom of the harbor years later. We then had a walking tour In the Old City followed by some free time for shopping. We had a beautiful sail-away that evening from Stockholm.
Here Comes Summer Added: 05-31-2013|
When I wrote to you last time, our ship, the Rhapsody of the Seas was just arriving at her anchorage off the coast of Lahaina, Maui. We had a free morning to explore Lahaina or just relax on the ship. Around mid-day we gathered ashore and began our tour of the area. We again had great guides and visited the Iao Valley and toured the Maui Tropical Plantation. Our ship remained in the Lahaina harbor all night and the entire next day, so we all had free time to explore, shop, or just find a nice spot on the beach! We then sailed from Maui and made our way to the Big Island. We anchored off the coast of Kona for a full day. That morning we had a tour along the coast to the Place of Refuge National Park. We also visited the Painted Church and the Kona Coffee Museum. During the afternoon, people enjoyed the beach, went shopping, or did further exploration of the area. I found a Starbucks and worked on my laptop while enjoying an iced Kona coffee! That evening we sailed away from Kona and began making our way around the Big Island, past the Kilauea Volcano. While I was fast asleep when we passed the volcano, the group reported seeing spectacular red and orange lava-flows going down the volcano and into the sea! The next morning I woke up as we were docking in the Port of Hilo. That morning, all of our buses were lined up on the pier. We quickly loaded the buses for our tour to Volcanoes National Park. Our guides drove us through the park, with stops at the museum, visitor’s center, the steam vents, and more. We even had a chance to walk through a lava tube! Our tour also included a visit to an orchid farm and the macadamia nut plantation and factory. We re-boarded the ship that afternoon and in the evening we set sail, heading across the Pacific towards Canada.
The ship did a great job at keeping us all entertained as we crossed the Pacific. The shows at night were spectacular. There were also all kinds of entertainment throughout the ship in the daytime and the evening. The ship had music everywhere including a Hawaiian trio, to keep the Hawaiian atmosphere going throughout the cruise. Also, with the exception of the last two days of the crossing, we had excellent weather and calm seas, so people enjoyed relaxing by the pool and outer decks.
After our five days at sea, we docked in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We had a beautiful day in Victoria. Kathryn, LL Allan, and I walked along the shoreline into the city and had a nice day in town. I, again, spent a good part of the day in the local Starbucks, enjoying their coffee and wi-fi! That evening we had a beautiful sail-away from Victoria and starting making our way into Vancouver. Early in the morning we passed under the Lion’s Gate Bridge and we docked at Canada Place in the early morning.
There was a lot of confusion at the pier that morning. It was the first time of the season that there were three ships in the port at the same time. On top of this, a major bridge on Interstate 5, between Vancouver and Seattle collapsed the day before, and, on top of that, it was the Friday before a three-day weekend! And…on top of everything else, one of our buses had an engine fire, just before the Canadian border. Despite everything, our latest bus arrived about 1 ¼ hours late at its destination. In the meantime, I missed my flight from Vancouver to Anchorage. I ended up flying to Seattle and waiting eight hours before I could fly with my next group from Seattle to Anchorage……I’ll tell you about that trip next week!
Meanwhile, during this time, our groups aboard the Azamara Quest, in the Mediterranean; aboard the Celebrity Solstice, on the West Coast; aboard the Disney Wonder, through the Panama Canal, aboard the Star Princess in Hawaii, and aboard the Azamara Journey, in the Mediterranean, all returned home, safe and sound. Good times were had by all! Now the office is breathing easier, knowing that all of these groups are back, safe and sound!
Aloha Added: 05-14-2013|
Today I am writing to you from aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas, anchored off the coast of Lahaina, Maui. It is a beautiful, sunny day and about 80 degrees outside! My crew at the office has been busy this week. As of today, we have over 1400 people traveling on a Travel With Alan tour including the 124 people who are now aboard our Azamara Holy Land and Mediterranean cruise.
When I wrote to you last week, I was on my flight from Fort Lauderdale to Honolulu. I arrived in Honolulu late in the evening and transferred to our hotel, the Embassy Suites Waikiki Hotel on the Beachwalk. I got a good night’s rest and the next day began meeting our newly arriving group members for our 3-night Waikiki pre-cruise package. The hotel was beautiful and we had a great stay. Two days later the last of our pre-cruise package travelers arrived and that evening we all went to Germaine’s Luau. Although we had heavy traffic getting to the luau, it was a wonderful evening, with good times, good food and a terrific show.
The next day I transferred everyone from the hotel to the ship. Meanwhile, Kathryn and Allan were at the airport to meet all of the newly arriving members of our group. By early evening we were all aboard. The three of us had some challenges with staterooms and dining assignments but we got most of them squared away by the next day. The next day we had a Honolulu city tour including the full visit to Pearl Harbor. We sailed away that night and arrived yesterday at Nawilili, on the island of Kauai. We had a great tour on Kauai, including the boat ride to the Fern Grotto. We sailed away from Kauai in the evening and, this morning, anchored off the coast of Lahaina, on the island of Maui. The weather today is perfect. Shortly we will be meeting the group for our Maui shore excursion.
Right now we have almost 300 Travel With Alan group members aboard the Disney Wonder, cruising from Miami to Los Angeles, through the Panama Canal. My cousins are escorting the group and they are sending back glowing reports. They tell me that everyone is having a fantastic time! I just did my first Disney cruise about a year ago. If you were receiving my e-mails at that time, you know that I was incredibly impressed with the Disney ship. Disney has a unique style and the entertainment aboard the Disney ships is unmatched in the cruise industry. They have so many extra touches, including the Disney characters aboard and the fireworks display one night during the cruise. The most important thing that I learned aboard my Disney cruise is that Disney cruises are for boys and girls of all ages. There is a whole separate deck for the kids aboard a Disney cruise, where they are entertained day and night. Adults aren’t even allowed there! Aboard the Disney Wonder, there is also an adult nightclub district called “Route 66” where there is lots of evening entertainment for the adults. Everyone on my last Disney cruises loved their cruise.
Eurodam TransAtlantic Added: 04-17-2013|
I am writing to you today from the Lido Restaurant aboard the ms Eurodam, somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. It is a quiet Sunday morning here aboard the ship as we turned our clocks an hour forward last night. I’m sure that most people are still in bed, just thinking about getting up!
After being at sea for six days, crossing the Atlantic from Florida, yesterday was to be our first day in port, in Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Although we had enjoyed pretty smooth sailing since leaving Fort Lauderdale, yesterday the seas turned rough and the winds started to blow. Around the shores of the Azores, the winds got very rough. At the last minute, the Captain decided to abort our docking and to bypass the Azores and continue on to the European Mainland. While it’s always a bit of a disappointment to miss a port, everyone was in good spirits. We have been having such a good time aboard the ship that nobody seemed to mind. By the time we reach Malaga, Spain, in a couple of days, we will have been at sea for nine days. Personally, this will be my longest stretch “at sea”!
Eurodam TransAtlantic Added: 04-12-2013|
I left Seattle last Wednesday and flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Upon arrival, I transferred to the Fort Lauderdale Westin Hotel and checked-in. By the time I got to my room, it was around 1:00 AM. I got right to bed, knowing that I had an early meeting with the hotel the next morning. We set up everything for our group’s arrival. Around mid-day, NanSea picked me up at the hotel and we went to the airport to start meeting the arriving groups. NanSea met the groups at the airport and I went to the hotel with them, briefing everyone en-route about our time in Fort Lauderdale. The hotel always had the keys ready for the next arriving group, so that by the time our buses arrived at the hotel, everyone was all checked-in and had their room keys!
The next morning we had a buffet breakfast for the group in one of the hotel’s ballrooms. Everyone came down at their leisure for breakfast. The first breakfast is always a lot of fun, especially when people run into others that they had met on one of our previous tours. That afternoon we boarded our coaches for a Fort Lauderdale city tour, with some great local guides. Our tour ended at the Bahia Mar Pier where we boarded the Jungle Queen, a sightseeing boat. We had a very nice narrated tour along the New River and the Intracoastal Waterway, passing by some incredible mansions and yachts.
Our tour ended at the Jungle Queen’s “Tropical Isle” where we were treated to a huge dinner followed by a very entertaining show, featuring a ventriloquist and a comedian. After the show, we re-boarded the Jungle Queen for our ride back to the pier and our awaiting buses.
The next morning we had another breakfast at the hotel before beginning our transfers from the hotel to the pier, where we boarded our ship, the ms Eurodam. We sailed away in the late afternoon, beginning our trek across the Atlantic. Since then, we have been pampered by the ship’s incredible crew. The daytime is filled with a variety of programs and activities and the nighttime is filled with shows and music. This cruise happens to be one of Holland America Line’s “BB King’s Blues Club” cruises. We have been enjoying this group’s music every night in the Queen’s Lounge. Last night, this big group was the featured show in the Mainstage Theatre. Tomorrow will be our last sea day before arriving in Portugal’s Azore Islands. After all these days of rest and relaxation, it will be hard to switch into the “touring mode”!
From February 27, 2013 Added: 03-12-2013|
Today I’m writing to you from the fourth largest city in the United States, Houston, Texas. We left the Mariner of the Seas in Galveston on Sunday after a great week in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, in this last week, NanSea returned home with her big group after 27 days in South America and Antarctica. According to NanSea, Antarctica was incredible. The group saw hundreds of whales and thousands of penguins……maybe next year I’ll get to go. Our other South America group had three days in Rio de Janeiro for Carnavale and has worked their way up the coast of Brazil. They are now exploring the Amazon River!
After 32 days at home, I flew to Houston 10 days ago. I then shuttled to my hotel and settled in for the night. On Sunday morning, after breakfast and a walk in the warm Texas sun, I gathered up the small group that had spent the night in Houston and loaded up onto one of our buses. We then went to the airport to meet all of the other arriving flights. I topped off the first bus and sent them on their way. We then loaded up the second bus and send them on their way. By then, the last flight was in so we loaded up the third bus and I went to Galveston with that group. We made good time in getting to the pier and the check-in went very fast. Before we knew it, the whole group was aboard the Mariner of the Seas.
I was just aboard the Mariner of the Seas last year with my big group doing a 30-day cruise all around South America. It was great going back on the same ship, and already knowing so many people, including my “adopted Romanian sister”, Adina. (We adopted each other about five years ago!)
We sailed away from the port in Galveston right on time. The seas were calm and we were at sea all the next day. On Tuesday morning, we docked in Cozumel, Mexico. We had perfect weather. As I have been to Cozumel so many times in just the last few years, I decided to just walk into town. I stopped at a department store along the way and bought a few things. I then walked into town and wandered around. I found an internet café where I could make a couple of phone calls and check my e-mails. I then walked back to the ship, getting back just in time. It started to lightly rain, just before I got back to the pier but, otherwise, it was a perfect day!
The next day we had a later arrival in George Town, Grand Cayman. I thought that I would sleep-in, since we weren’t arriving until 10:00 AM, but I woke up very early anyway. Oh well….it was another perfect day. The tender boat service to and from the shore went very quickly, the weather was perfect and everyone had a great time. Many in the group went swimming with the stingrays! I have decided that Grand Cayman is one of my favorite Caribbean Islands!
The next morning we docked in Falmouth, Jamaica. Falmouth is a historic port city, about half way between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. They have built a beautiful port facility there with a nice plaza and courtyard filled with shops and restaurants. While Jamaica has never been one of my personal favorites of the Caribbean Islands, it seems like everyone in my group who took an excursion in Jamaica just loved it! It was turning out to be a perfect cruise!
After Jamaica, we had two days at sea. There is so much to do aboard Royal Caribbean’s “Voyager Class” ships and everyone really enjoyed the sea days. Some went ice skating in the ship’s ice rink, some played miniature golf, some did the rock climbing, some attended the events and activities and others just enjoyed the sunny weather and the pools. On the last night, the ship had another one of their parades through the ship’s “Royal Promenade”. The parades on these ships are something to see!
On Sunday morning, we docked in Galveston, Texas. The disembarkation went as close to perfect as you could hope for. Everyone came off the ship in a short span of time and we got everyone quickly loaded on our buses. From the pier we went to Space Center Houston. This museum is fantastic….you could spend days there. The highlight of the Center is the tour into the Johnson Space Center including a visit to Mission Control. After leaving the Space Center, two of the buses went to the airport for the return flights and one of the buses went to the Crowne Plaza Suites for our two-night Houston post-cruise package. I’ll tell you all about that next week!
From March 7th, 2013 Added: 03-12-2013|
After leaving Space Center Houston, two of our buses went directly to the airport. I went with the third bus to the Crowne Plaza Suites Hotel. Upon arrival, our rooms were all checked in and I handed out the key packets right on the bus, while our driver unloaded the luggage. Once we got off the bus, we were able to go directly to our suites. After some time to get settled in, we all met at the hotel bar, for a cocktail hour....we were each given four free cocktail coupons in our check-in packets! We then gathered and went right next door to the Olive Garden for dinner. The next day, we had a leisurely morning. Many of the group lingered over our "cooked to order" breakfast buffet. In the late morning, we gathered to board our bus for a bit of free time at the Galleria Mall. Some shopped, some had lunch, and others watched the ice skaters. We then re-boarded our bus, we were joined by an exceptional local guide who showed us more of Houston than I had ever seen before on a Houston city tour. We visited many of the different neighborhoods of this fourth largest city in the United States. Our tour even included a visit to the observation area atop the Chase Tower for the sweeping views of this sprawling city. We returned to the hotel in the late afternoon, in time for "happy hour". We then gathered and went next-door to the Saltgrass Steakhouse for a huge farewell dinner. On Tuesday morning, we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and a free morning before boarding our bus one last time for our trip to the airport and our flights home. Our Houston package was a great way to add a couple of extra days to our holiday before returning to the "real world"!
Since I had to be in Phoenix in a day and a half, I decided to go to Las Vegas, rather than returning home. I used to do a lot of tours in Las Vegas, so I still know a lot of people there. Also, there have been so many changes in Las Vegas in the last few years. I figured I should go and check out some of the new hotels and attractions for myself. I think I am overdue in offering a Las Vegas tour.....watch my e-mails in the coming months!
I then flew to Phoenix and transferred to the Embassy Suites in Tempe, where my group would be staying. My parents joined me there and I had a day to spend with them. My niece, Karli, is a freshman at Arizona State University, so I was able to spend some time with her as well.
On Saturday morning, I got up early and went to the airport to fly back to Seattle, for the funeral of my boss, Rick Hertzog. With my new group arriving that day, I didn't think I would be able to go. I want to say a huge "thank you" to Kathryn and Allan (double L) Thayil, who agreed to cover for me on Saturday. They picked up all of our new group members and got them checked-in to the hotel. They also coordinated the dinner that evening. (They did this even though they had out-of-town company at home). Rick had died very suddenly and unexpectedly a week earlier, and was way too young to go.
I arrived in Seattle, rented a car, and drove directly to the church where the funeral was to be held. Soon, the church filled up completely. Even after bringing in extra chairs, it was a standing room only crowd. The service was beautiful with Rick's wife and his three sons each making poignant tributes. Rick has always joked that he wanted to give away a cruise at his funeral so that people would come. Rick's sons share the same sense of humor so they followed through and gave away a cruise. I'm sure that Rick was looking down and smiling. After the funeral, I drove back to Sea-Tac Airport, turned in my car, went to the gate and got on the plane back to Phoenix. Next week, I'll tell you about the Spring Training tour.
Alan Update Added: 07-26-2012|
Today we are enjoying a beautiful, sunny day at sea in the Mediterranean aboard the ms Noordam. We have just finished with six days in a row in six different ports. We have had great tours in all of the ports. Next week, I will tell you all about it!
In this week’s email, I will finish telling you about my Baltic cruise and bring you up to date on my current Mediterranean cruise. When I left off last week, we were sailing away from Helsinki, Finland. The next day, we arrived early in the morning at the entrance to the Swedish Archipelago. I had planned to sleep through our entrance into Stockholm through the Archipelago, knowing that the scenery would be exactly the same that evening, when we were leaving Stockholm. My plans were switched when I woke up very early in the morning, so I decided to get up and enjoy the view from my balcony. I think that the Swedish Archipelago is one of the most beautiful sail-ins in the world. I ordered a pot of coffee from room service and enjoyed the spectacular view while enjoying my morning coffee!
A bit later that morning, the group gathered for our Stockholm city tour. Our tour today took us around the city’s harbor and into the city center. Our first stop was at the City Hall. It was a beautiful day and we had a pleasant walk along the waterfront to the entrance. Inside the city hall, our guides took us through the building, showing the hall where the annual Nobel Prize banquet is held. We then went to the Vasa Museum. This museum houses an elaborate, old Swedish war ship that was built so top-heavy that it sunk into the harbor soon after being launched. Thanks to the type of mud and water in the harbor, the ship was almost perfectly preserved in the mud until it was excavated. This museum is always very popular! We then went to the Old Town. Our guides showed us the Royal Palace and took us on a short walking tour before letting us loose for some free time. We then returned to the ship mid-afternoon for a late lunch and to get ready to enjoy our reverse journey through the Archipelago.
The next day was a day at sea. This gave all of us a chance to rest up and get ready for our big 11 ½ hour tour the next day in Germany. Some in the group, realizing that the cruise was “winding down”, even started to think about packing.
The next morning, we docked early in Warnemunde, Germany. Warnemunde is in the former East Germany and is a beautiful seaside resort.
I have to interrupt my story to tell you that I am now sitting in the Lido Restaurant, aboard the ms Noordam, sailing into the Greek Island of Corfu. At this moment, I am witnessing the most beautiful sunrise. An orange ball of fire just started peaking over the mountain tops and is now in full view. I guess I shouldn’t complain about not having a window in my office at home!
Back to Warnemunde…….Normally, when I have visited this port, we do an all-day tour to Berlin. We have to leave as early as possible, in order to see as much of Berlin as possible, making it back to the port in time for the ship’s sail-away. This time we were going to be two days in Warnemunde, with an overnight in port, so there was no hurry. Because of this, and knowing that over half the ship would be departing for their tours around 7:00 AM, I decided to have our tour leave at 8:30 AM. We were able to have a more leisurely morning and there were no crowds at breakfast! We had all of our buses lined up at the pier. We quickly boarded, met our Warnemunde guides, and began our almost three hour trek into Berlin (including the rest stop along the way!). Upon our arrival in Berlin, our first stop was at a local restaurant for lunch. Actually, because of the size of our group, we divided to two different restaurants, with two coaches going to one and four coaches to the other. We all enjoyed the same, typical German menu. After lunch, we met our Berlin guides who took us to many of the historical sites and famous icons of the city. We saw the Berlin Cathedral, the Reichstag Parliament Building, Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall. We had excellent guides who gave us a full account of the city’s very recent history. We toured the Holocaust Memorial and walked from there to the Brandenburg Gate, where John F. Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Actually, that night they were setting up enormous big screen televisions on either end of the street to televise the huge soccer match. They were expecting hundreds of thousands of people in the streets…..and yes, Germany won! Our tour ended at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. From there we had a bit of free time for shopping at the local shops or in the adjacent mall before beginning our journey back to the ship. We made excellent time on our return voyage. When we got back to the ship, there was a huge German buffet dinner being served by the Lido Pool complete with a local German band! It was quite festive! That night, NanSea was tired but Brian and I decided to venture back into town to look around. The town was pretty quiet but the evening temperature was perfect. We walked through the town and returned to the ship, tired after a very full day!
This was the first time that I have been on a cruise that we spent the night in port in Warnemunde. This gave us a full day to enjoy Warnemunde itself. It was a lot of fun to just have a leisurely day to explore this seaside resort town. Brian, NanSea and I had a later start to the day and wandered through the town. We tried some treats from a local bakery and even shared a pickled herring from one of the local seafood vendors. I think that, while wondering the town, we ran into our entire group! We just strolled up and down the town, walked on the beach, and checked out the local sand castle building competition…….the sand sculptures were incredible. We came back early and began packing and preparing our group departure for the next day.
Our disembarkation the next morning went like clock-work! We had everything organized so that our group came off the ship based on their flight time and airline terminal. The last members of our group to come off the ship were the 94 people that had a “forced overnight” in Copenhagen. We got them off the ship and onto buses. We then took them on a short city tour and to the “Stroget” (Copenhagen’s famous pedestrian street) for some free time. We then went to our hotel, right by the airport, for check-in. Brian, NanSea, and I ordered pizzas from Dominos that evening and called it an early night……We had to be ready to go in the lobby at 4:00 AM to see off the first flights! Within a few hours, everyone was on their way home, filled with stories of their Northern Europe adventure. I am very hopeful that we can offer the same cruise next year!
More Updates Added: 05-16-2012|
When I wrote to you last week, we were sailing away from Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a great city with a beautiful skyline. It seems like, lately, I’ve been spending more time in Barcelona than I have at home!
The next morning, we docked around 10:00 AM in Monte Carlo. It is always nice when our ship can get dockage at the new port facility right in Monte Carlo! Once again, our group was the first group off of the ship. We went ashore and met Jane, my favorite Monte Carlo guide and began our excursion. We first went to the Monaco parking garage, where we left our coach and made our way up the series of escalators and elevators. We then had a stroll through the gardens, on the way to Monaco’s Cathedral. We toured the cathedral and visited the graves of Princess Grace and Prince Reinier. We then went to the Royal Palace for the “Changing of the Guard”. Afterwards, we had some free time for shopping and exploring. We then made our way back to the coach and drove to Monte Carlo. From the parking garage, we crossed the path of the course for the Monte Carlo Gran Prix. The city was getting ready for the big race, which is just a few weeks away. We then went to the Casino Square. We had some free time there to explore and mingle with the “rich and famous”. I always enjoy just looking at the fancy cars parked in the square. Afterwards, we returned to the ship. I began to think about packing, knowing that the next day was the last full day of the cruise but would also be a full day in port visiting the Cinque Terre!
The next morning, we anchored out at La Spezia, Italy. Our group tendered ashore to begin our adventure to the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a collection of five beautiful Italian villages, spread along a rugged shoreline. From the tender pier, our coach took us to the second village, Manarola. From the parking lot, we trekked into the town and through the village. We then had a hike along the Via Del Amore or “Lover’s Lane”. Our walk took us to Riomaggiore, the first and oldest village in the Cinque Terre. In Riomaggiore, we caught a boat and had a tour up the coastline to the last village, Vernazza. Here we had an incredible Italian lunch with some good Italian wine. Our restaurant was on a rooftop with spectacular views of the whole coastline. From there we caught a train back to La Spezia where our coach was waiting for us to return us back to the ship……It was a very full day! That evening, we packed up all our things and got ready for our long journey home the next day.
The next morning, our group disembarkation went flawlessly. Our groups disembarked and boarded their coaches to Rome’s Fumincino Airport. There, we checked-in for our flights and were on our way home. Fortunately, that day, all of the flights were right on time!
I got home late on Friday night and on Saturday morning I was back in the office. It’s amazing how much can “stack up” while you’re gone! I had eight full days in Seattle until the beginning of my next adventure…….my West Coast cruise aboard the Disney Wonder.
On Sunday, after spending the morning with my family celebrating Mother’s Day, I drove to Sea-Tac Airport and flew to Ontario, California. First thing, on Monday morning, I was at the Ontario Airport, ready to meet the 83 people who were flying into this airport to cruise with me aboard the Disney Wonder. Meanwhile my colleagues, Kathryn and Allan, were at Los Angeles International Airport to meet a big group that was flying into that airport and my boss, Rick, was flying down to the Orange County Airport with yet another group. There were also a number of individual arrivals that were flying into Los Angeles from all over the U.S. and Canada for our cruise. By early afternoon, we were “All Aboard” and ready to begin our Disney adventure……..330 of us in all. All I can say so far is that I am very impressed! Next week, I’ll tell you all about the cruise!
Spanish Crossing Part 2 Added: 05-01-2012|
When I wrote to you last week, we were at sea, en-route from the Atlantic island of Madeira, sailing towards the Spanish Mainland. It was a beautiful day at sea. The next morning, we docked in Malaga, Spain. Our buses and guides were waiting for us on the pier and we were first off of the ship. We boarded our coaches and headed to Grenada. The ride from Malaga to Grenada is a beautiful ride through the Andalucía countryside past all of the farms growing everything from olives to asparagus. We had a brief tour through Grenada, the ancient city where Christians, Moslems, and Jews all lived together in harmony. The main focus of the tour was our visit to the Alhambra. We toured much of the Alhambra compound with our guide as well as the adjoining Generalife Gardens. After our tour, we re-boarded our coaches to go into town where a huge lunch was waiting for us, with some good Spanish wine! During lunch, we were entertained by a musical group from the nearby university. After lunch, we returned to Malaga and the Eurodam.
The next day, we docked in Alicante, Spain. Alicante is a beautiful seaside city, with beautiful beaches. Many Europeans have a second home in Alicante to enjoy its sunny weather, great beaches, and more “laid-back” lifestyle. Today our tour took us to the Monastery of Santa Faz, a magnificent church, right near the city center. We then had a panoramic tour of the city, including a stop at a seaside café for a refreshing glass of sangria. (I’m sure it was 5:00 somewhere!) We then drove to the historic city center, where we walked in to the Town Hall, dating back to the 18th century. We then toured the adjacent cathedral, dating back to the 15th century. We then had some free time for shopping or grabbing a light lunch. Our groups then all met up at another sea-side café for a glass of the favorite local drink, horchata, a drink made from the tiger nut. We then returned to the ship and all of the evening activities aboard.
The next day was a day at sea……the last sea day for about half of the group that would be leaving the following day in Civitavecchia for their transfer to the Rome airport and their flight home. For the other half of the group, it was just another day at sea to get ready for all of the ports of call ahead of us!
On Friday morning, I met the group that was staying for the extra week on the ship and going, for the day, to Rome at 7:00 AM. I got them loaded on their bus with their guide and they were on their way to Rome. I then waited for about a half hour for the other group, the group that was disembarking, to come through the terminal. I got them all loaded up on their buses, each with a local assistant. Within record time, the buses were on their way to the airport. I went on the last bus and helped see the last of the people through the initial security check-in, which is required for all USA bound flights. It wasn’t until later that I found out that many of the group were on a flight that was delayed, and some of the group had to spend the night in Philadelphia, before flying to their final destination the next morning.
Meanwhile, a car was waiting for me and the local guides to take us into town. The driver dropped me off at the Vatican, where I met the other group on their Rome shore excursion. I waited for about a half an hour outside the exit from the Sistine Chapel before I saw the group coming down the steps. From there we went into St. Peter’s Basilica, where our guide explained everything. We then went to our bus for our short ride to one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Papa Rex. Here we had an Italian feast, while we were entertained by a singing duo with a guitar and an accordion. Before long, the whole group was clapping and singing along……maybe it was the wine! After lunch we visited the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navone before returning to Civitavecchia and the Eurodam. When we boarded the ship, we could tell right away that the passenger make-up of the ship had changed completely…..from the crowd on the 13-day trans-Atlantic cruise to the crowd on the 7-day Mediterranean cruise. The ship had definitely become much more “lively”!
On Saturday morning, we arrived in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Our guides were waiting for us to take us on a tour of the city and the surrounding area. We first went into the Old Town, where we toured their incredible cathedral. We then visited the Sicilian Parliament and the Palatine Chapel. From there, we had a walk through the fruit, vegetable and seafood market. The market, which goes down a narrow street, was filled with all different kinds of vegetables, many familiar and many unique to the island. We ended up by the Opera House where we had some free time for shopping and exploring before returning to the ship.
Next week, I will tell you about the rest of our Mediterranean adventure!
Spanish Collectors Voyage Added: 04-24-2012|
My group started arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday. By Friday night, the whole group was checked in at the hotel. On Saturday morning, after a breakfast buffet at the hotel, we boarded our coaches and we were on our way to Port Everglades to board our “home away from home” for the next two to three weeks, the ms Eurodam. Saturday evening, we set sail, beginning our trek across the Atlantic. The first two days we had perfect, sunny weather. On the third day, the weather changed. It got a bit cooler and the seas were a bit choppy…..but not too bad. The next day, the skies were still cloudy but the seas were calm. That evening we all gathered for our “Travel With Alan” cocktail party. We then had three more beautiful days at sea with clear skies and calm waters making our way to our first port of call, Funchal, Madeira.
Yesterday morning, we landed in Funchal, Madeira. If you have ever been to Madeira, you would understand why this island has such a special place in my heart. The island is lush and beautiful and the people are amazing. It is the perfect port for a cruise ship. We arrived in the morning and our group was the first group off the ship. We boarded our coaches in record time and we were on our way. My bus first went to Eire do Sorado, a scenic viewpoint overlooking the island, the ocean, and the Valley of the Nuns. We had some time here to take a hike to a further viewpoint, to go shopping, and to sample some Madeira wine! (I’m sure it was 5:00pm somewhere!). Actually, the most interesting part about a visit to Eire do Sorado is the bus ride coming and going up and down the narrow mountain road. The road is too narrow at most points for two buses to pass each other……which makes for a very interesting ride! We then had a scenic tour of the island, stopping at another scenic viewpoint, where we had an excellent view of our ship. We then went to the town of Monte. We had some free time there to do some shopping and/or visit the Catholic Church. We then participated in Madeira’s most famous attraction, the toboggan ride from Monte down towards the town of Funchal, below. Two men push the toboggan to get it going before hopping on the runners as we go screaming down the hill! This ride is on actual city streets, with real cross traffic! The toboggan “pushers” each hold a rope that is tied to the toboggan. The only way they have of stopping the toboggan is to jump off and pull on the rope. It’s hard to describe but something you need to do at least once! We then drove into the city center. Many of the roads were closed to traffic as yesterday was the day for the floral parade. The big floral festival had just started this weekend and yesterday was the day for the big parade. There were beautiful displays throughout the city including huge “floral carpets”. Everyone had the option of remaining in town for shopping and to enjoy all of the festivities or to return to the ship. By the time the ship sailed, it seemed like the entire population of the island was lined up along the parade route, waiting for the parade to begin. We are now enjoying a beautiful, calm, and sunny day at sea, getting ready for our next two Spanish ports of call.
Greetings from Canada/New England Added: 10-05-2011|
Today I am writing to you from my stateroom aboard the Explorer of the Seas, en-route from Halifax to Boston.
Since my return from Madrid, I had 5 ½ very busy days at home. I was working on getting ready for this tour as well as putting together some plans for future cruises and tours, well into 2012. Then, last Tuesday, I had an afternoon flight from Seattle to Newark. I arrived at the hotel just after midnight and got a good night’s sleep, to be ready to meet all of our guests arriving for our cruise to Canada and New England. On Wednesday morning, I had meetings with the hotel management, making sure that everyone was ready for the group’s arrival. Then, I made my way to the airport to meet the first group. During the day, NanSea and Dave arrived to help me out and the three of us spent the day shuttling back and forth between the airport and the hotel, meeting all of the new arrivals. By about 1:00 AM, the last of the group had arrived and was checked into the hotel.
On Thursday morning, everyone came down to the hotel’s ballroom for breakfast. We were there to greet everyone and give them their “welcome aboard” packets. It was pretty amazing to see all 333 of our guests in the hotel’s huge ballroom! After breakfast, we began shuttling everyone to the pier and, before we knew it, everyone was checked-in and aboard the Explorer of the Seas!
The Explorer is one of Royal Caribbean Lines’ huge “Voyager Class” ships. She has lots of extra amenities including a big “Royal Promenade” and an ice skating arena. We had lunch aboard the ship and had the afternoon to explore the ship and get settled in. Early that evening, we set sail, heading north into New England.
Friday was a day “at sea”. I like it when the first full day aboard the ship is a “sea day”. It gives everyone a chance to get settled in and get their bearing aboard the ship. Royal Caribbean also filled the day with a number of activities including classes, lectures, and activities. That evening, after the big show, we gathered in the Royal Promenade for our first big parade!
On Saturday morning, we arrived early in Portland, Maine. Many of the group took tours to Kennebunkport and the surrounding areas. NanSea, Dave, and I just wandered around Portland. Then, I found a Starbucks and got caught up on all of my e-mail!
On Sunday morning, we again arrived early in Bar Harbor, Maine. Most of the group did tours into Acadia National Park, taking the afternoon to enjoy Bar Harbor. I again found an internet café and did a bit of shopping. Bar Harbor is a quaint New England town and a fun place to “explore”. Our good weather continued throughout the day, with rain arriving around the “all aboard” time.
On Monday morning, we arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick. This day we had our first Travel With Alan shore excursion. Our coaches and guides were waiting for us on the pier to take us around the area of Saint John, including the nearby town of St. Martin, where we had a light lunch including the restaurant’s “world famous” seafood chowder! We also saw the Reversing Rapids and the city of Saint John. This was a very busy day for the group. After we returned from the tour, we all gathered for our Travel With Alan cocktail party. It was great to again see the whole group gathered in one big room, enjoying the company of the group…..and the cocktails. That evening, we all gathered again for the ship’s ice show. We were able to arrange for a large block of tickets to the show, so that we could all go to the ice show together!
Yesterday, we arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Again, my regular guides were waiting for us to take us around Halifax and out to the very scenic Peggy’s Cove, where we had a big fresh lobster lunch. We all donned our bibs and began attacking our lobsters! We also visited the Public Gardens, the Citadel, and the Titanic Cemetery. Our full-day tour was full of stories of the area and information about the city’s very interesting history.
Today we are enjoying a day “at sea”. After four busy days in port, we are all ready for a day to rest and relax and to enjoy all of the amenities of the ship. The weather took a turn for the worse and today we are experiencing choppy seas and strong winds…..but I have to say that the ship is handling the weather very well and its nice and calm inside! This day at sea finally gives me a chance to get caught up on my e-mails and to write my newsletter!
More From Europe Added: 09-19-2011|
FINALLY, we have another day at sea. This cruise has been great.......so many ports......and very interesting ports.......but we’re all pretty tired from all of the excursions! Still, it’s been a lot of fun......even for me......we are visiting six ports that I have never been to before!
When I wrote you last week, we had a sea day after five days in a row in different European ports. Everyone enjoyed the day of relaxation and pampering aboard the Ryndam! On Monday, we docked in Naples, Italy.....the birthplace of the pizza! Our regular guides were waiting for our arrival and took us on a tour of Naples. We then left Naples and made our way to Pompeii. Here we took a walking tour through the ancient city that has been so well preserved under all of the volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. This is always a great tour.....especially when you have a great guide! We then returned to Naples for some free time before sailing away.
On Tuesday we docked in Cagliari, Italy. This was another new port for me. It was also my first visit to the island of Sardinia. We toured the ancient city and the old city walls, dating back to the 13th century. Of course, we visited the city’s cathedral, which was magnificent. We then did some touring around the island and its beautiful beaches.
On Wednesday we docked in Palma de Mallorca, in Spain’s Balearic Islands. This city really amazed me. It is a very unique mixture of many different influences over the years. We toured the Gothic-style Bellver Castle, which dates back to the 14th century. We then visited the Alundaina Palace, which was originally built as an Arab fortress. Although it got quite hot during the day, especially for September, it was a nice and very inclusive tour.
The next morning we arrived, early in the morning, in Barcelona, Spain. This was the ship’s “turn around” day. Most of the passengers aboard the cruise left the ship and a whole new group arrived for the next cruise. While all of this was going on, most of our group did an all-day tour to one of my favorite spots.....Montserrat. I don’t know how many times I have been to Montserrat, but it is several, yet I love going there every time. There is just something magical about the combination of the incredible cathedral and the surrounding mountains. Two of my regular Barcelona tour guides were waiting for us at the pier. From there we went directly to Montserrat where they gave us a guided tour and then some free time to explore. After leaving Montserrat, we made our way back to Barcelona, where we had a huge lunch (with plenty of good Spanish wine) on the Barcelona waterfront. From there we went to my favorite street, Las Ramblas, for some free time to shop and enjoy all of the activity and the street performers. From there we returned to the pier to meet our new fellow guests for the next leg of our journey.
We had a beautiful sail-away from Barcelona and then we had a well-deserved day at sea! The next morning we woke up, docked again in the island of Sicily. This time, we were on the other side of the island in Messina. As usual, our guides were waiting for us at the pier to take us on a sightseeing tour of Messina and then up to the town of Taormina. We had a spectacular ride, along the coastline, from Messina to Taormina. In Taormina, our guides took us on a walking tour, up the town’s main pedestrian street. At the end of the road, we visited the town’s Greco-Roman amphitheater, which dates back to the 3rd century BC. The theater is still used today for open-air performances. Along the way, we even learned a bit about the “Cosa Nostra” After our tour of the theatre, we had some free time to stroll back down the town’s main road.....with some time to visit some of the shops along the way and perhaps try a gelato or granite! We then returned to the ship for our mid-afternoon sail-away. That evening, the whole group gathered for our cocktail party and my birthday party! Actually, we celebrated all of the August and September birthdays in our group. We had cocktails, appetizers, and a big cake! Good times were had by all!
After sailing away from Messina, we headed for the Greek Island of Cephalonia and the port city of Argostoli......another new port for me! Cephalonia is a beautiful island.....one I wouldn’t mind returning some time, just to relax for a week! We drove around the island, which is full of olive groves. We saw some of the beautiful beaches and towns. We then drove past the town of Sami, where we got in rowboats in an underground lake. We then went on to the city of Myrtos, to see the white cliffs before returning to the ship.
On Monday, we docked in Brindisi, Italy......another new one for me! We boarded our coaches, along with our guides, at the pier and drove to the neighboring town of Ostuni. Ostuni is an amazing, white-washed village. We left our coaches for a walking tour of the city with our guides. We toured some of the neighborhoods, even having a chance to meet some of the locals. Of course, we visited the town’s two major cathedrals! After our walking tour, we had some free time for a mid-day snack. I found a local bakery and sampled their pizza and some focaccia bread with tomato and eggplant.....it was delicious! After leaving Ostuni, we made our way back to Brindisi, past thousands of olive trees. We stopped at an olive farm and olive oil mill, where we learned all about different kinds of olive oil and all of the uses for olive oil and even the uses for the left-over olives and pits! We then returned to the ship for a beautiful sail-away. I have to say that, on this cruise, we have had beautiful sail-aways from our ports and some spectacular sunsets each evening!
Yesterday, we landed in Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor was supposed to be our third and last tender port but, once again, our captain arranged for our ship to dock.....as he did the other two times. We docked right in the heart of Kotor, just across the street from the Port Gate to the Old Walled City. Our guides were waiting for us at the bottom of the gangway and escorted us to our awaiting coaches. We then left Kotor and made our way to Budva. Budva is another walled city that is now a popular tourist resort. It was unusual to see an ancient, walled city that is now full of discos, nightclubs and sidewalk cafes! We had a walking tour through the old city and some free time to explore. We then returned to Kotor where we had a walking tour. I think that the whole group, including me (this city and country was another first for me!) was very impressed with the city. We visited the main cathedral and walked through the narrow streets of the city. After the tour, we had the option of walking across the street and back to the ship, or remaining in Kotor for some free time.
Today is FINALLY another day at sea! After four days in a row of hot weather and long tours, we were all ready for this day. For me, it is a chance to try and get caught up on all of my e-mail and to rest up for the coming days of more long tours and sights to see! Next week, I’ll tell you about the rest of the cruise as well as the extension into Spain’s capital city, Madrid.
Hello From Europe Added: 09-09-2011|
After boarding the ms Ryndam in Barcelona, we were at sea for a day and a half before we arrived in Trapani, at the southern tip of Sicily in Italy. I was very excited as this was my first visit to Trapani! Our guides and drivers were waiting for us at the pier. We loaded our buses and began a tour of the city and the surrounding area. We drove down the salt road, where we learned the origin of the word salary......hint......the Italian word for salt is sal! We saw some of the city’s monuments and statues and toured the city’s museum.....housed in a former convent. We then drove into town, where we left our bus and continued on foot. Our guides took us into the town’s historical center, where we toured the church, dating back to the 17th century. After walking through a little bit more of Trapani, we said goodbye to our guides and either stayed in town for shopping or returned to the ship.
On Wednesday morning, we woke up in Valetta, Malta. This day was also very exciting for me because, for this port, I have never been to the country, Malta, before! Our two buses did the tour in reverse order, so that things would be less crowded. My bus first went to the ancient city of Mdina. This old, walled city was incredible. We walked past old buildings and churches. We then visited the Carmelite Priory, which the local friars have opened up to the public to raise money. A local guide gave us a guided tour inside the priory and the church, explaining the life of the monks. We then re-boarded our coaches for the ride to the more modern city of Valletta. We visited the St. John’s Cathedral, where we learned about the life of the ancient knights. The cathedral looks very plain from the outside but is very ornate inside. We then walked to the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Here we had a great view of the city and the harbor, including a great view of our ship. We then had some free time in the old city before returning to the Ryndam.
On Thursday morning, we arrived in Katakolon, Greece. This was a real treat for me as I had just been there a couple of weeks earlier aboard the Noordam. I had lined up the same tour with one of the same guides as last time. Our other guide wasn’t available but she hand-picked a replacement for herself who was equally good! This day was also good because the ship wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Katakolon until noon, so we got to have a relaxing morning on the ship. We left the pier shortly after noon and drove to Olympia, the city of the ancient Olympic Games. Our first s top was at the same resort, just outside of town, where my previous group had lunch a couple of weeks earlier. We had a huge Greek lunch buffet with several homemade Greek specialties. They had a women there making homemade cheese pastries, that were delicious! They also served plenty of Greek wine and beer! From there we waddled back to the buses and made our way to the Museum of the Ancient Olympics. Here our guides took us on a tour through the museum, showing all of the excavations including tools, artifacts, and statues that have been recovered from the Olympic site. We then walked to the site of the games where we had a walking tour through the grounds, including the gymnasium, the baths, and the stadium. We then re-boarded our coaches for the short ride into Modern Olympia, where we had some free time for wandering the streets and for shopping.
On Friday morning we docked in Corfu, Greece. Again, I planned the same tour, with the same guides that I had been with just a few weeks earlier.
We boarded our coaches at the pier and had a scenic drive, across the island, to the beach town of Paleokastritsa. We went through the town and on to Paleokastritsa’s monastery for a tour. We then returned to the town, where we boarded small boats for a half=hour ride on the crystal clear waters into the area’s famous grottos and sea caves. They were all spectacular, especially the famous “Blue Eye”! We finished our boat rides and re-boarded our coaches and went on to Kanoni for the scenic view-point. I ran up to the top to grab a Starbucks! We then went into Corfu Town where we had a walking tour of the city, including a visit to the Church of St. Spiridon, the patron saint of the island. We then had a bit of free time before we returned to the ship.
On Saturday morning we docked early in Dubrovnik, Croatia. This was yet another port that I had just visited a few weeks earlier aboard the Noordam. I had the same two excellent guides waiting on the pier for my group. We began the tour, this time, with a scenic ride along the Croatian coastline, stopping for photos at a scenic viewpoint. We then drove to the entrance of the old walled city. We began our walking tour there, first visiting the monastery and the original pharmacy. We then climbed to the top of the city walls and had a nice tour on top of the walls, while enjoining the views of the city down below on one side and the coastline on the other side. After our walk on the walls, we went down into the city for a tour of the cathedral and part of the old town, ending up at the same restaurant, along the waterfront, where I had lunch with my group a few weeks earlier. We had another great lunch, featuring the local cuisine. After lunch we had almost two hours of free time to explore the old city before we returned to the ship.
And, on the seventh day, they rested! After all of the days in a row in port, we finally got a day off! We had seen a lot, done a lot, and had a fantastic time.....but we were all ready for the rest. It was nice to just have a day to relax and enjoy the ship....especially with the nice, sunny weather! Next week I’ll tell you about the rest of our tours.
Greetings From Barcelona Added: 08-23-2011|
As I am sitting here in my hotel room in Barcelona, organizing my thoughts to write this week’s e-mail, I am amazed myself about how much I have done in the last week!
When I wrote to you last week, we were sailing to Messina, Sicily, Italy. We arrived there early on Monday morning. Again, our buses and guides were waiting for us to take us on a tour to Taormina, to see the city and the ancient Greco-Roman amphitheater. We had a very nice tour with some free time for some last-minute shopping. We then drove back to the port just on-time for our early sail-away. That afternoon and night we were at-sea, making our way back to our home port of Civitavecchia, Italy. That evening we all enjoyed the “Master Chef’s dinner on the ship before we finished our last-minute packing.
Tuesday morning was probably the smoothest ship disembarkation that I have ever had with a group. Since we had early flights, as early as 11:00 AM (and Rome is usually over an hour away), our group had an early disembarkation. We were scheduled to depart the ship between 7:30 and 7:45 AM. By 7:53 AM, I was on our third and last bus, already rolling out of the port. Because so many Italians are on vacation in August, my bus (the last bus) was already parked at the airport by 8:55 AM…..It was amazing. We all got checked-in for our flights and we were on our way….It was a good way to finish the cruise!
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was in the office for some very long hours getting everything ready for my next tour as well as doing some work on some future tours and setting up more new cruises and tours. Saturday evening, one of our team members, Anna Louise, had the whole team over to her house for a nice summer barbeque. On Sunday morning, I went to Lynnwood to see off part of the group heading off to Vancouver for our Alaska cruise/tour. My cousins, Norene and Richard, are cruising as I write this, from Vancouver to Seward. They will then continue on a land tour to Anchorage, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks. I then went to my parent’s house to have lunch with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law and my niece and nephew. I wanted to see everyone since I was leaving early the next morning for a full month! I then returned to the office where I worked into the evening before going home to pack. I left my place at 5:00 AM on Monday morning and I arrived early this morning in Barcelona, Spain. Since I wrote to you the last time, I have logged over 14,000 air miles! My group will arrive in about 36 hours for a 3-night pre-cruise package in Barcelona. The next day, the other half of our group will arrive and then on Sunday, we will all transfer to the pier to board the ms Ryndam for our 21-day Mediterranean cruise. I will keep you updated about our Barcelona tour and the cruise in the coming weeks’ e-mails.
On the Noordam-Greek Isles Added: 08-10-2011|
Greetings from somewhere between Corfu, Greece at Katakolon, Greece! I am with my group on the Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. We are enjoying some incredible Mediterranean weather and very smooth seas!
Last week, I wrote to you about our cruise in November to Hawaii. I then stayed at the office until about midnight before I went home, did a last load of laundry, packed my bags and went to the airport and flew to Rome, Italy. I met my incoming groups at the airport in Rome. We loaded up our coaches and proceeded on a Rome city tour. We had a view of the Coliseum before we drove into Central Rome for a walking tour, including the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. I broke away from the group, leaving the group with our Roman local guides, to get some of the luggage to the hotel, so that they would be waiting in rooms upon the group’s arrival. Our Rome agent met me there and we worked together to get all of the room keys sorted out, so that we could get most of the group right into their rooms, upon arrival at the hotel. With the exception of just a few rooms that weren’t ready yet, we got everyone, and their luggage, in their rooms immediately upon arrival. After we got everyone into their rooms, I sorted out some details with our local agent. I then went to my room, took a nice, long, hot shower and went to bed for a deep nap!
For me, it was a great time to leave Seattle….although I don’t know if my staff agrees! The office was flooded with calls on Wednesday and we sold out our entire block of space for the Hawaii cruise by mid-afternoon on the first day. The next day, we got another block of space and those were all gone on that day. I would like to say a special “thank you” to our owner, Rick, and Debbie, from our Missions Department, and Bill, our “cruise guru” who came in on their days off to help out with all of the phone calls and air ticketing…..and of course all of the regular Group Department staff, including Naomi, Anna Louise, Michael, and Debbie. They got it all done, even with me being gone with a group and Kristi being on vacation……GOOD JOB ALL!
Anyway, back to my tour……We had two nights in Rome, before our cruise. We stayed in a very nice hotel, right in the heart of the city. The first day, after we arrived at the hotel, after our city tour, we were free for the rest of the day. The next day, we had a tour to the Vatican. We toured through the Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel and through St. Peter’s Basilica. That evening, we went to La Carovana for a huge Italian feast, with plenty of wine and some great Italian music. On Saturday, we boarded our coaches and made our way to the port city of Civitavecchia, where we boarded Holland America Line’s ms Noordam. It is good to be back on the Noordam. As I was just aboard the Noordam for 23 days in May, it has been good to see many familiar faces aboard the ship! My group really benefits from the contacts aboard that I already had. We got the exact dinner tables that we wanted and we are all being well “looked after”!
Saturday evening, we sailed away from Civitavecchia. We had that evening and all day on Sunday “at sea” to get settled in on the Noordam. On Monday morning, we docked in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik has always been one of my favorite port cities….actually, I love just about any old walled city! Our guides and buses were waiting for us and we were treated to a tour of the old city including a walk atop the city walls. Our group members were all “troopers” as it got quite hot outside…..up to 90 degrees! After our walk on the walls, we toured the monastery and the original pharmacy. Our reward afterwards was a beautiful Croatian lunch at a waterfront restaurant. We then had some free time to explore the city and do some shopping before returning to the ship.
Today we docked early in Corfu, Greece. Again our excellent guides and coaches were waiting for us to take us on a tour of this beautiful island. Aside from the spectacular coastline and beaches, I was surprised to learn that there are over four million olive trees growing on the island! Our tour first took us to the far side of the island to Paleokastritsa, where we boarded small boats for a tour that included three grottos. We were able to see to the bottom of the sea, through the crystal clear waters. The sea caves were incredible….especially the “Blue Eye”! We then did a scenic drive of the island, including a stop at an incredible overlook. We then returned to Corfu Town where we had a walking tour including a visit to the Greek Orthodox Church, with all of the icons. We then had a bit of free time, before returning to the ship.
We are now sailing on to Katakolon, Greece, where we will arrive in just a few hours. We have another tour there. Then, tomorrow evening, we will have our Travel With Alan cocktail party. I’ll tell you all about those next week!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 Added: 07-14-2011|
Believe it or not……This week, I am writing to you from my office in Lynnwood, Washington! (For those of you who are not from around here, Lynnwood is a suburb, just north of Seattle). I have to remember that, these days, about half of our clients are not from Washington State…..they come from all over the United States and Canada!
I returned to Seattle on Sunday aboard Holland America Line’s ms Oosterdam. This is the same day that our group returned from their cruise/tour to Alaska aboard the Island Princess. Meanwhile, our other Alaska group is still on their tour. They left the same day that I did, under the guidance of Stephen, Joanne, and Georgia Thacker. They left the ship on Sunday and have travelled to Anchorage and Denali National Park (Joanne reports that the group saw lots of bears, caribou, moose, and foxes! Yesterday they took the McKinley Explorer Rail Cars to Fairbanks where they will stay for the last two nights of their tour before flying home tomorrow. Our other group is in Scandinavia aboard the Azamara Journey doing their Baltic Capitals and Russia cruise…..It is busy around here!
I came back on Sunday with a very happy group. We had a super cruise in Alaska. The weather was pretty good. It was a bit cool….but not cold, and although the skies were overcast most of the time, we had very little rain (for Alaska!). We had perfect visibility for viewing the glaciers in Glacier Bay and, at the end of the afternoon, as we were sitting in front of the Marjorie Glacier (we got so close to the glacier this time, you felt like you could reach out and touch it), the sun came right through the overcast and brought out the rich blue colors of the glacier!
Since my last e-mail, we visited four ports of call. On Wednesday, we were in Juneau, the state capital. We had a very nice tour there out to the Mendenhall Glacier, the salmon hatchery, and Douglas Island. The next day we were in Sitka, Alaska. Our regular guides were waiting there for us to give us a tour around Baranof Island including the Raptor Center, the National Park and Visitor’s Center, and the Native Dance show. On Friday we were in Ketchikan for just 5 ½ hours. We had a super tour there to Potlatch Park, a totem park where their resident totem carver, Brita Alander has created a tremendous attraction. We also visited the Deer Mountain Hatchery for a tour. Friday was a relaxing evening on the ship as was Saturday morning. Then, in the evening, we arrived in Victoria, BC, Canada, where we stayed until midnight. Sunday morning, we woke up already docked at Pier 91 in Seattle…..just minutes from home!
Tuesday, July 5th Added: 07-08-2011|
I am writing to you today from Glacier Bay, Alaska. We have already seen whales and dolphins today. Even though it is a bit cool and the skies are overcast, it is a perfect day for seeing the glaciers. As many times as I have been to Alaska and to Glacier Bay, I am always still amazed at the beauty and majesty of the glaciers.
I returned to Seattle on Monday night. Tuesday, I took the morning off but I came in to the office around noon and stayed until late at night. It’s been a busy week at the office, especially since I’ve been away for just shy of a month! We’re continuing to receive all kinds of offers for different cruises and tours.
On Sunday morning, I went to Lynnwood to see off part of the group going on the Alaska cruise/tour. There are a total of 95 people in that group, which is being escorted by Stephen, Joanne, and Georgia Thacker. They were going by bus to Vancouver, where they were boarding the ms Statendam. They will do a 7-day cruise, followed by a five-day land tour through the Alaskan Interior. After the bus left, I went to the office for a bit and then I went home to pack. I then went to Pier 91 in Seattle where I boarded the ms Oosterdam, with 162 members in my group, for a 7-day cruise to Southeast Alaska. My parents, Irwin and Babette, are along as well to give me a hand! It’s nice to spend some time with my parents……With my recent travel schedule, I haven’t had much of a chance to see them!
We sailed away from Pier 91 around 4:00 PM and had a beautiful sail that evening in Puget Sound. Yesterday we were at sea all day. The weather turned cooler as we were headed north. This morning, around 11:30 AM, we entered Glacier Bay National Park. We boarded two rangers from the U.S. Park Service, who are giving narration as we are traveling, on the ship, through the park. We have seen some smaller glaciers and we will soon see the John Hopkins Glacier and then the Marjorie Glacier. Tomorrow, we will be in our first port of call, Juneau. In Juneau, we will meet the other group from the Statendam, so there will be over 250 Travel With Alan travelers tomorrow in Juneau! Next Tuesday, I’ll be back home in Seattle. I will tell you then about the rest of the cruise!
March 1st, 2011 Added: 03-02-2011|
I’m still back here in cold (and now wet) Lynnwood, Washington!
Last week, I left off as I was getting on the plane from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Iguazu Falls. As much as I enjoyed the 30-day cruise aboard the Mariner of the Seas, I felt that the tour to the Falls was the best part of the trip. Our flight aboard TAM Airlines was very nice. Even though the flight was under two hours, they served a drink and a hot sandwich to everyone…..no charge! I had a special arrangement set up for all of our heavy luggage to be loaded on a truck, so we only had light bags to check-in…..and there was no charge to check our bags! Our heavy luggage, with everything that we didn’t need for Iguazu Falls, went to our Sao Paulo hotel and was put in storage. When we arrived in Iguazu, we walked into the terminal building. Porters had already been arranged to collect our luggage. We quickly boarded our buses and made our way to our hotel, The Golden Tulip Iguazu. The hotel had a “welcome drink” waiting for us. We quickly got our keys and went to our rooms to freshen up. Some people took advantage of the hotels beautiful pool and grounds, while others took a walk around the town. Still others just took a little rest! That evening, we went to a big Brazilian barbeque restaurant where we had a big buffet dinner!
The next day was the highlight! After the hotel’s big breakfast buffet, we boarded our buses and made our way into the Iguazu Falls National Park. After going through the visitor’s center, we re-boarded our buses to go further into the park. There we boarded special tractor-pulled trams to go further into the jungle and closer to the river. We took those trams as far as we could. Then, we transferred to some jeeps to get down to the river. At the river, we put on life jackets, took off our shoes and socks, and boarded our 24 passenger Zodiac inflatable boats. While we were told the day before that we would get wet, they didn’t tell us that we were in for the ride of our lives!
The boat captain loved to give us a thrill, quickly shifting directions from one side of the river to the other, with increasing speed…..and lot’s of splashing. (I thought that was the “getting wet” part!). Then, as we turned one bend, we could see the falls……and they seemed to go on for miles. Then, we saw one of the “smaller” falls, “Devil’s Throat”. He took our boat right under the falls. We just had water DUMPED on us……We were all SOAKED! Then, he asked if we wanted to go again….and, to my dismay, everyone said YES! We ended up going under the falls four times! At the end of the boat ride, we reclaimed our shoes and did the trip in reverse, going back on the jeep and tram to our awaiting buses. We then went down the road a way to where we left our buses and began a walk to view the falls. We were on the Brazilian side……They say that Argentina has the Falls and Brazil has the view. The view from where we first got off the bus was spectacular. I couldn’t imagine seeing anything more spectacular. Then, as we walked along the trail, it kept getting better and better, seeing different sets of falls and water flowing everywhere. There was one section where they constructed a platform over the river along the falls. I was almost dry, at this point, at least on the outer layers, but after this walk, I was soaked again! At the end of the walk, which everyone did at their own pace, we took a panoramic elevator ride up to the top to an area that had shops and restaurants. From there, after some free time, we re-boarded our buses and made our way back to the hotel. Some of the people from the group decided to stop along the way for an optional helicopter tour of the Falls…..which they said was wonderful! That evening we had another big dinner with wine at one of the city’s best restaurants.
The next morning was a free morning. We had another big breakfast at the hotel. NanSea and I opted to take our breakfast outdoors, to one of the tables by the pool. Even in the early morning, it was very pleasant outside. That morning turned a little busy as we had a few people come down with the flu. We worked on getting them to and from the doctor and back to the hotel on time to make our flight. We had another nice flight back to Sao Paulo on TAM….with another hot sandwich. Upon our arrival, we met again with our Sao Paulo guides, who had picked us up from the ship. We went to our hotel, the Golden Tulip Sao Paulo and quickly checked-in. We were given our keys immediately and went to our rooms where all of the luggage that we had left behind on the truck at the pier two days earlier was waiting for us. That evening we had an exceptional dinner right in the hotel.
The next day was our last day in Brazil. That morning was a free morning and we had four more people come down with the flu that was going around. The rest of us boarded our buses, after our mid-day check-out from the hotel and had a tour of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city. We toured the whole city including the soccer stadium and the public market. Our tour ended up at a Brazilian churrasco (barbeque restaurant). After having all of the items from the salad bar, the costumed “gauchos” (Brazilian cowboys) came around with skewers of all different kinds of meats. They just kept coming and coming! After dinner we boarded our buses for the last time for the transfer to the airport. There we checked in for our flights, which left just before midnight, and began our long flights back home.
This was a great trip…..a great cruise and a great post-cruise extension to Iguazu. If you have never been to Iguazu Falls, I HIGHLY recommend it. I have seen many natural wonders around the world but I have to say that this was my favorite. Hopefully I’ll return there next year!
South America Update Added: 02-11-2011|
Today we are cruising northbound, along the East Coast of South America.
When I wrote to you the last time, we were on our last day, cruising towards Valparaiso, Chile. From Valparaiso, we offered two different tours. Some of the group went with NanSea for a one-day tour into the capital city of Santiago. The rest of the group went with me for a two-day tour into Santiago. NanSea’s group disembarked first and loaded their coaches for the one-day tour. They first went to the Viramonte Winery for a tour of the vineyards and the winery…..with wine tasting, of course! They then went into Santiago and did a city tour. They then went to one of Santiago’s best restaurants, Camino Real, for a great Chilean lunch, complete with pisco sours (the national cocktail) to start, followed by a huge lunch with some Chilean wine! The other group went with me for a tour of the port city of Valparaiso. We then went into Santiago where we met up with the other group for lunch. We took over the entire restaurant…..there were about 200 of us in total! After lunch, NanSea’s group did a little more sightseeing in Santiago before returning to the ship in Valparaiso. My group then did part of the Santiago city tour, including the funicular ride to the top of San Cristobal Hill. We then went to our hotel, the Hotel Plaza San Francisco, where we were checked into our rooms in less than five minutes. We then had a little bit of free time. Some people had a rest while others went across the street to the city’s Downtown area for some shopping and exploring in the city’s pedestrian malls. That night we gathered again in the hotel’s lobby, where the hotel treated us all to yet another pisco sour! We then boarded our buses for a dinner and show at “Los Buenos Muchachos”. We were again treated to another pisco sour followed by a huge dinner featuring hot grills placed on the tables that were heaping with all kinds of meats and, of course, some good Chilean wine! The show featured a big band and dancers, showing us the music, costumes, and dances from the different regions of Chile. We then returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep! The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we boarded our coaches with our same great guides, and continued our tour of Santiago, visiting “La Moneda” (the President’s Palace), and Constitution Square, including the main cathedral. We then did some panoramic sightseeing on our way out of the city. On our way back to Valparaiso, we stopped at the La Molina Horse Ranch, where we were treated to a light lunch including an empanada (a big, stuffed pie filled with meat, onions, and olives) and some more Chilean wine! We then had some time to enjoy the grounds and the animals. We then continued on to the next valley, where we stopped at the Viramonte Winery for a tour of the vineyards and winery, followed by a wine tasting. We then continued back to Valparaiso and the Mariner of the Seas!
The next day, we were at sea, cruising south along the coast of Chile. That day, the seas turned a bit rough on us. I realized then that, up until that day, the seas were perfectly smooth! Although the seas did get rough, I don’t think that there were more than a handful of people, if that, that missed dinner or any of the ship’s activities. The next day, we were still aboard the ship. In the morning, the seas were still a little rough but by mid-day we had entered the Chilean Fjords, where the shelter of the Andes Mountains sheltered us in the narrow channels. Although it was a bit cold, with overcast skies, and a little rain on and off, we still got to see some spectacular scenery in the fjords. It was the same the next day as we cruised through the narrow passage of the Strait of Magellan……another day with some spectacular scenery!
On Sunday morning, we woke up in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern-most city in the world. Their slogan there is “The End of the World”! Ushuaia was a tender port for us, so we anchored out in the harbor and went ashore on local tender boats. Unlike our wonderful tendering experience in Cabo San Lucas, we experienced some major delays in the ship’s tender service. Although one of the groups got off immediately and began their tour, the rest of the group was delayed over an hour. We finally got everyone ashore and had a beautiful tour of the city and Tierra del Fuego National Park. This tour was a nice break from all of our other city tours that included monuments and cathedrals. This tour just highlighted the beauty and nature of this isolated southern outpost. The park was beautiful and we saw many lakes, streams, mountains, and wildlife. As luck would have it, the first bus, which left the port early, broke down and had to wait for a replacement bus….so all of the buses returned about the same time! After the tour, many of the group remained in town for shopping and sightseeing, while others returned to the ship. NanSea and I found a nice, local restaurant where we had some empanadas. Upon returning to the pier, we found a very long line and another wait to get back on the ship. Fortunately, it was a beautiful afternoon in Ushuaia and, although it was a bit cold at times, we were warmed by the sun breaks. We got back on the ship just in-time to go to our desk! We had a nice sail-away from Ushuaia, even though we left about 45 minutes late. We have been enjoying the long days, especially the views from our dinner tables during both the early and late dinner seating’s.
On Monday morning, we arrived around 9:00 AM at Cape Horn. Again, the seas got a bit rough, as you would expect at Cape Horn but the ship handled the seas beautifully. The skies were overcast and we had a bit of rain but everyone enjoyed the view of this southernmost island. We had some commentary and a nice 2 ½ hour sail around Cape Horn.
We are now sailing northbound along the coast of Argentina. Today the seas are perfectly still and the temperatures have been warming each day. Today, it is about 70 degrees outside. After our Cape Horn day, we will have three days at sea, as we are cruising toward Montevideo, Uruguay, where we will stay on the ship for two days…….I’ll tell you all about that, and the rest of our cruise next week!
February 1, 2011 Added: 02-01-2011|
Greetings from somewhere along the coast of Chile! This has been a phenomenal cruise, so far. The Mariner of the Seas is a beautiful ship. The food, service, and entertainment have been exceptional. We have been very lucky with the weather. The skies have been mostly clear, the temperature warm but not too hot, and the seas have been totally calm. Today is the first day that we’ve felt any motion at all…..but it’s still fairly calm.
Last week, I left off with our arrival into Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Our buses were waiting at the pier to take our group into the nation’s capital, San Jose. We had fantastic guides on all of our buses and perfect weather for a tour, with temperatures in the upper 70’s. We left the port and went to the town of Sarchi, which is famous for their painted oxcarts. We also had a nice snack there of some fresh tropical fruits. We then had a stop in the town of Grecia, to see their metal church. We then went to a private gardens and banquet hall where we had a huge lunch. We then had a visit to the National Museum, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and their famous Opera House. After leaving San Jose, we returned to the pier and our home for the next month, the Mariner of the Seas.
After leaving Costa Rica, we had three days at sea. I love the days at sea and the whole group enjoyed relaxing and enjoying all of the services, activities, and pampering aboard the ship!
Our next port of call was in Callao, Peru, the port city for Lima. I was very excited about this port as it was my first time in Peru. Again, our buses and guides were waiting for us to take us into Peru’s capital city. Here we departed the pier and went to Lima’s city center. We toured the Plaza Mayor and then had a guided tour through the main Cathedral. We then drove through some of the city’s neighborhoods before visiting a huge Peruvian Handicraft Market. The shopping was great there…..even I bought a bunch of things! We then went to the “Lover’s Park” for a great view of the Pacific Ocean and one of the city’s most popular beaches before returning to the ship. They had a number of craft vendors at the pier, so the shopping continued!
After a day at sea, we arrived at our next port, Arica, Chile. Arica is Chile’s largest city in the Northern Region. It is a center of trade for Chile with both Bolivia and Peru. Once again, we had great guides to take us around the city. We stopped at the city’s war museum, which also had a great viewpoint of the entire city and the surrounding region. We also went through some of the area’s agricultural areas and learned about their unique farming and irrigation techniques in their desert climate. We viewed the area’s petroglyphs and learned about their history. We then toured the city’s museum and saw all of the mummies! Our tour ended in the city center where we toured the San Marcos Church, one of the city’s three buildings designed by Gustave Eiffel. Our final stop was at the local handicraft market, which was right next to the port gate. Although we had just a short stop there, many in the group decided to stay and shop some more before returning to the ship.
Today is now the second day at sea since we have left Arica. Even with all of the days that we’ve had at sea, there are still parts of the ship that I haven’t visited. NanSea and I have yet to have our miniature golf championship! Tomorrow morning, we will be arriving early in the port of Valparaiso, Chile. About half of the ship will be finishing their cruise tomorrow morning but our entire group will be staying on for the next 14-day cruise around Cape Horn. Almost our entire group will be taking part in one of our two excursion offerings tomorrow. Some will be doing an all day tour into Santiago with NanSea and some will be coming with me for a 2-day overnight tour into Santiago.
Greetings from the Southern Hemisphere! At about 3 AM this morning, we crossed the equator and we are now sailing southward towards Peru.
Last week I told you about our travel show in Lynnwood. The Monday following the show, our phones didn’t stop ringing. At 9:00 AM, when we turned on the phones, every line lit up. The phones pretty much stayed the same way throughout the morning. By the afternoon, they had slowed but were still steady….Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty much the same. These were very busy days in the office because, in addition to taking all of the new calls, my staff was busy getting ready for me to leave town for 37 days! On Thursday I flew to California, where I got to spend a couple of days with my parents who were visiting there at the time. On Saturday I drove to Los Angeles and checked in at a hotel near the airport. That evening I met up with NanSea and we went over all of the details for our cruise to South America. The next morning we went to the airport to meet many of the incoming group members who were flying in to join us for the cruise. We went on the last buses to the pier where we boarded the Mariner of the Seas. The Mariner is one of Royal Caribbean’s large "Voyager Class” ships. I was very used to the ship as in the past four months I had done four cruises on the sister ships; once on the Explorer of the Seas to Canada and New England and three cruises on the Voyager of the Seas, to the Mediterranean, a trans-Atlantic, and a Caribbean cruise. I definitely knew my way around the ship!
NanSea and I first went to visit the maitre d’ and found that all of our table requests were done exactly as we had requested! We then set up our hospitality desk. We spent the rest of the day taking care of all of the “first day business” that we have to tend to at the beginning of a new cruise group. It wasn’t until late at night that we had a chance to deliver all of our “welcome aboard” letters and our Travel With Alan shore excursion tickets.
Monday was a day at sea. This gave all of us a chance to get settled in to our cabins…..or “home” for the next 30 days! I got all unpacked and settled in to my home for the next month! The next morning, we had a beautiful sail into Cabo San Lucas. Cabo is one of the most beautiful ports in the world. Aside from the beautiful scenery that we always see going in and out of this port, we saw lots of dolphins and birds sailing around the tip of Baja and into our anchorage. The tendering service into the port was unbelievably quick. NanSea and I went in and just wandered the town. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were both able to recharge our supply of vitamin D! The tendering service coming back was equally quick and we got back just in time for a quick change and to be at our desk on time. After visiting our group’s tables on the first and second seatings, we settled in for a great dinner on the ship.
The next day we arrived in the late morning at Puerto Vallarta. It had been a while since I had been to Puerto Vallarta. Once again, we decided to just wander the town. I couldn’t believe how much the town had built up. We walked along the beach boardwalk and into the old city. Along the beach, there was all kinds of activity including an area where people had built elaborate sand sculptures. We crossed the bridge into the “Old Town” area and saw the cathedral. We then discovered a huge flea market area that seemed to go on forever. We did a little shopping and meandered through the market area. We ended up back at the beach and walked back into town. We found an open-air restaurant on the second floor where we had some nachos and a nice, cold, Mexican beer before heading back to the ship.
After Puerto Vallarta, we had three days at sea. This really gave us some time to relax and enjoy the ship. The internet connections aboard have been great and I was able to get caught up on my e-mail. Then, on Sunday, we arrived early in the morning in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. I have always loved visiting Costa Rica. The whole country seems so green and lush and the people are exceptionally friendly. We had an early start for our all day tour into the capital city of San Jose. Next week I will tell you all about our tour in Costa Rica and the rest of our journey.
January 4, 2011 Added: 01-04-2011|
I hope you had HAPPY HOLIDAYS and that you are enjoying a fantastic start to the NEW YEAR!
Today I am writing to you from aboard Holland America Line’s ms Amsterdam in the sunny Caribbean. We are en-route from Cartagena, Columbia on the final leg of our holiday Panama Canal cruise.
When I wrote you the last time, we had just boarded the ms Amsterdam in Long Beach, California. We boarded at the new cruise ship terminal, just behind the Queen Mary. It is great to be back on the Amsterdam. From the minute I boarded the ship, I already knew half of the crew! We had a nice sail-away from Long Beach as we began our holiday cruise through the Panama Canal. The ship had been late in coming into the port that morning so the boarding process took a little longer than usual….but the wait wasn’t too long. We were able to get right into our staterooms and start enjoying the cruise. I first went to meet with the maitre d’, Sarif, who I have known for many years. I was pleased to find out that all of the dining arrangements were exactly what we had requested……What a relief! I then set up my desk and we were ready to go. We sailed away a bit late as they were waiting for some late flights to come in. They were also busy loading all of the supplies for our 14-day cruise. Before we knew it, we were sailing away along the coast of California. The next day was a day “at sea”. We had a day to explore the ship and enjoy all of the beautiful Christmas decorations including flowers all over the ship. We arrived in the early afternoon in Cabo San Lucas and immediately began tendering ashore. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Cabo and everyone enjoyed the port call. I spent the day helping one of the couples in my group who had an injury. We went to the local American hospital, where we received great care. They decided to fly home and I returned to the ship, just on-time for “all aboard”.
That evening was Christmas Eve. There were all kinds of Christmas activities onboard including “cocoa and caroling” around the huge Christmas tree in the atrium. There was a midnight mass and a midnight interdenominational service that evening and even a movie and Chinese food for those of the Jewish faith! The next morning there was a big “eggnog social” with a sing along, led by the Amsterdam singers, followed by the arrival of Santa! Santa and his helpers brought gifts for all of the children and posed for pictures! That afternoon, the whole crew put on a special Christmas show. That evening, there was a special Christmas dinner served in the dining room.
By the next morning, we were in Acapulco. Everyone had different plans for that day. Some went on tours, many including the Acapulco cliff divers. Some people went to the beach and others went shopping. I got caught up on my e-mail and went into town in the afternoon. After Acapulco, we had another day at sea to enjoy the ship and the beautiful, sunny weather! On Tuesday morning we arrived early into Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. I had planned on taking the day and sitting in the seaside restaurant, right by the pier that had complimentary wi-fi connections. I had planned to bring my laptop computer and getting caught up on my work while enjoying the lap of the waves against the shore. But since my laptop had “crashed”, that was out of the question. I hadn’t booked any tours so I decided to just stay around and enjoy the port area. The last time I was in Puerto Quetzal, the port was just the dock and little else. Since then they have developed a beautiful port area complete with tourist information areas, shops, restaurants and an outdoor theatre. I watched one of the free shows in the theatre, did some shopping, and spent some time in their outdoor internet café. Others in the group took tours into the cities, to the beach areas, or into the jungle, and others took tours to explore the Mayan history in the area. We then had another day at sea on our way to Costa Rica. On this cruise we have had a port just about every other day and a “sea day” on the alternate days…….Just perfect!
On Thursday we arrived in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. This was a great day and people loved their tours in Costa Rica. Many did the full-day tour into the capital city of San Jose. Others did boat rides in the jungle or visited the city of Sarchi, which is famous for their colorful oxcarts. Some of the more adventurous even took a zip-line tour! I stayed on the ship that morning to see the special show that the ship was putting on for over 100 Costa Rican children as part of the “Project Smile” program. The kids (and I) were treated to a special Christmas show complete with a visit from Santa (bearing very nice gifts for each child). The whole group was then hosted for a Christmas lunch in the dining room. That afternoon I hired a taxi to take me to the neighboring city of Puntarenas. We drove through the Costa Rican countryside to Puntarenas. I brought my laptop with me and my driver/guide took me to two different computer repair shops……with no success……Oh well! He took me on a short walking tour through the city. He stopped at a little sidewalk stand and bought me the sweetest banana that I have ever tasted. I returned to the ship just on-time for sail-away.
Oh……..Its time for me to sign off…….I’ll finish the rest next week! I have to turn in my “loaner” computer!
December 9, 2010 Added: 12-08-2010|
Greetings from aboard the Voyager of the Seas in the sunny Caribbean!
Last week I had a very busy few days in the office. I got home on Monday night from Florida and I had a lot to do on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday since I would be flying out again on Friday! I even ended up coming into the office for a few hours on Friday morning before I headed to the airport for my next adventure! I had a nice flight to Houston on Friday afternoon. I arrived on Friday night and transferred to the hotel. It was nice walking outside in the warm Houston air…..especially after spending a few days in Seattle! That evening, I coordinated everything with the hotel’s front desk to get ready for everyone’s arrival on Saturday. Our first flights started arriving around 10:00 AM. We then had waves of people arriving throughout the day. By around 9:00 PM, all 312 of us had arrived and were checked-in at the hotel. On Sunday morning we had a big buffet breakfast at the hotel. We then boarded our coaches for the transfer to the Port of Galveston, where we boarded the Voyager. It was fun coming back on the same ship that I had just left two weeks earlier…..from the minute that I boarded the ship, I knew all of the officers and crew!
Sunday evening we had a nice sail-away from Galveston, even though the temperatures dropped down into the 50’s. By Monday morning, the temperatures picked up again and have gotten warmer and warmer since then…..Today it is supposed to get up to 80 degrees! Monday was a day at sea. We had time to get settled in and get acquainted with this big ship. Yesterday, (Tuesday), we were already docked in Cozumel, Mexico by the time we woke up. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Cozumel. This morning we will be anchored off the coast of George Town, Grand Cayman. We should be there by around 10:00 AM and we will have a full day there.
November 12, 2011 Added: 11-12-2010|
(I started writing this e-mail over a week ago, as we were on the high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona. I finished the e-mail sitting at the counter at Café Promenade aboard the ship. I’ve had computer and internet issues in between)
I know that this next week is going to be a very busy one, so I decided to get a head-start in writing my weekly e-mail. Right now, I’m aboard the “Ave” high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona. I have 70 people with me and, right now, we’re traveling at 299 kilometers an hour…….about 195 MPH!......It will get a bit faster! We’ve had two fantastic days in Madrid. Yesterday we had a tour to Toledo. Toledo is a very interesting town and the former capital of Spain. The architecture in Toledo is an interesting mix of different styles….everything from Gothic to Moorish! The cathedral in Toledo is one of the most impressive cathedrals in all of Europe. Last night we had an incredible Spanish dinner with lots of tapas and the most famous Spanish dish….paella! Of course, we had some good Spanish wine to wash it all down! Today we checked out of our hotel and began our city tour of Madrid. Our guides, Rufo and Conchi (the best in all of Madrid!), took us on a panoramic city tour. We then had a tour through the Royal Palace and the Cathedral. We then went for a huge lunch (with some more wine, of course!). After lunch we had a short ride to the train station where we boarded the Ave train to Barcelona. We arrived at the train station at about 4:15 PM and by 5:00 the train was moving! Within five minutes, we were moving at over 100 miles an hour…..and ten minutes later, we were doing double that! This evening we will arrive in Barcelona and transfer to our hotel where, hopefully, our luggage will already be inside our rooms! (I had all of the luggage sent this morning, by truck, to the Barcelona hotel.
We arrived in Barcelona where we were met and transferred to our hotel. We then had the rest of the evening to get settled in. The next day, the group had a free morning. I had an early wake-up call to get to the airport to meet NanSea and the newly arriving “2-night pre-cruise” group. One of our “top-notch” Barcelona tour guides met me and we greeted the first half of the group. We got their luggage loaded on the luggage truck and got the people on the first coach for their Barcelona city tour. I then waited with NanSea at the airport. We went and had a coffee and went over some last-minute details of the tour while we waited for the next wave to arrive. After waiting a while, we went and checked on the flight and found that it was late. By then, our second local guide had arrived. As I had to meet my “5-night” group, I left the two of them at the airport and grabbed a taxi back to my hotel. There, I met my group and our local guides and got them going on their Barcelona city tour. After their departure, I took care of some business and then caught a taxi to the “2-night” hotel. I met NanSea and we got everything organized for the arrival of the first group. After we got them checked-in, NanSea and I went to our favorite sidewalk café for a traditional tapas lunch. We then went back to the hotel and checked-in the second group. I then returned to my hotel to greet my group as their buses returned from the city tour. That evening, both groups met for dinner at a restaurant in Central Barcelona, in the shadow of the Segrada Familia cathedral. We had a great dinner with some good Spanish wine! Afterwards we took some time to view Segrada Familia all lit up at night.
Saturday was a free day for both of our current groups. I met NanSea at her hotel to do one of my favorite things in the world…….a stroll on Barcelona’s famous street, Las Ramblas. This incredible street features a pedestrian mall down the middle. There are shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars along the way. There is a big public market that features all kinds of meats, fruits, vegetables, and more. My favorite part of the Ramblas is all of the “street entertainers” up and down the boulevard. They say that these performers, including all kinds of mimes and “human statues” are the best in the world. NanSea and I found a great sidewalk café in a big square, just off of the Ramblas, and had a tapas lunch. That day, we had another 59 members of our group flying in to Barcelona. Dave Adams, my office manager’s husband, flew in with that group. He got them settled in at their hotel. Meanwhile, in the evening, both our 2-night and 3-night groups gathered for a huge seafood dinner on the Barcelona waterfront.
Sunday was a big day. Our 1-night group left in the morning on a Barcelona city tour, which ended up at the ship. Our 2-night and 3-night groups had a free morning. Both groups then boarded coaches for their transfers to the pier to board the Voyager of the Seas. Since it was Sunday, I scheduled a stop for all of the groups at the Cathedral Square. It is a tradition on Sundays in Barcelona for people to gather in the square to dance the regional Catalonian dance, The Sardana. There is a big band on the cathedral steps and groups form circles, some on an organized basis and some on an impromptu basis, to dance this dance. This day we were also treated to a big parade for All Saints Day and even a small protest demonstration! From there, we went to the pier where we boarded the Voyager of the Seas. In my Tuesday e-mail, I will tell you about our first week on the Voyager including our tours in the various ports of call.
November 3, 2010 Added: 11-03-2010|
Greetings from aboard the Voyager of the Seas, somewhere between Naples, Italy and Civitavecchia, Italy. I am aboard with NanSea, Dave, and 340 members of our Travel With Alan group. Everyone is having a great time…….and the three of us have been BUSY!
My regular weekly update will go out in a few days…..Please watch for it!
October 26, 2010 Added: 10-26-2010|
I am writing to you today from sunny Madrid, Spain. This last week has been very busy in the office. First of all, everyone has been working to get me ready to leave town for a month-long trip. There are so many last-minute details for these tours, especially the one I am on now. We have 352 people all together. Some of them are arriving today for a 5-night Madrid and Barcelona pre-cruise tour. Another big group will be flying into Barcelona in three days for a 2-night Barcelona pre-cruise tour, another group will arrive the next day for a 1-night pre-cruise tour and the rest will arrive the following day and go directly to the ship…..like I said, a lot of details!
For me, I was in the office until this past Friday. Actually, on Friday night I was at the office until about 2 AM. Then I went home and packed and slept for an hour and a half until my ride came and took me to the airport. I flew to Newark and then on to Madrid, arriving about 10 AM on Sunday morning. I took a taxi to the hotel and waited for my room to be ready. Then I went to my room, took a hot shower and a good nap! Yesterday I had a free day to do a bit of exploring in Madrid on my own. This morning the group started to arrive and by late this afternoon, everyone was here for the 5-night Madrid and Barcelona pre-cruise tour. Tonight we all met for dinner in one of the hotel’s banquet rooms. Tomorrow we will do a tour to Toledo!
In addition to all of the last minute preparations that we were making for this tour, the office has been very busy taking bookings for the two new tours that we sent out last week…..both for the two Azamara cruises to the Caribbean in November and December and for our big Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic cruise that we are doing in April/May of next year. I just spoke to the office and apparently the calls are still coming in. I know that there are over 100 people booked to come with me on the Mediterranean cruise in April (the one with the automatic confirmed upgrade to balcony staterooms with really inexpensive upgrades to the top suites on Holland America’s Noordam) but we still have space…..I booked a very large block for that cruise…..I hope you can join me!
October 21, 2010 Added: 10-25-2010|
It is Wednesday evening and I am here in the office, writing my newsletter……which I thought I would get written during the day today! Many of you saw the “special” e-mail that I sent out last night with the 2-week Azamara Caribbean cruise. We were kept very busy today with the phone calls! I forgot to mention in yesterday’s e-mail that the rate includes a complimentary upgrade to an ocean-view stateroom and that for $300 more per person you can upgrade all the way to a “Club Veranda” stateroom. I also forgot to mention that, on these two tours, departing November 27th and December 10th, the single supplement (the extra amount that a single traveler pays to have sole occupancy of the stateroom) is only $440! This is VERY reasonable. This package comes with LOTS of extra amenities like pre-paid gratuities, complimentary sodas, specialty coffees, bottled water and more. Our package even includes open bar for the length of the cruise……with most brands (with the exception of premium brands) INCLUDED…..That includes wines, cocktails, liqueurs, and more! We now have more space on both departures so give us a call if you want to go.
Last week I didn’t tell you about my 4-day cruise down the West Coast aboard the ms Statendam from Vancouver to San Diego. I told you that I got home late on the night of September 25th from our Canada and New England cruise. I spent one night at the Larkspur Landing Hotel where, the next morning, I boarded our coach for Vancouver. We drove up to Mt. Vernon, WA for our rest stop. There I switched buses and went the rest of the way to Vancouver with our Lynnwood bus. Upon arriving at Canada Place in Vancouver, our check-in went VERY quickly. It was great to be back on the Statendam…….I saw a lot of familiar faces amongst the crew there! We left Vancouver that evening and cruised to Victoria, British Columbia. We had a full day there but I was kept fairly busy on the ship getting everything together for our cocktail party and the group’s disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. The skies were grey and there were some drizzles but by the time I got out, everything had cleared up very nicely. I had a nice walk from the pier into the city and back! I got back just in time for the “all-aboard” and to man my desk! That night the seas got choppy and we had a little “rock and roll”. That all calmed down by mid-day the next day. Then we had two days at sea cruising down the West Coast. We had a very nice Travel With Alan cocktail party the next evening, up in the Crow’s Nest. Almost everyone from our group of 116 showed up and we had a nice time together! The next day I left the ship in San Diego, leaving the rest of the group to continue their cruise on to Ft. Lauderdale by way of the Panama Canal. I spent a night in San Diego and returned home the following day. I have been home since and now I will be leaving this weekend for Madrid, Spain……I’ll tell you all about that next Tuesday!
For the past several weeks I have been working on putting together a spring Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic cruise. It is finally all put together and, I have to say, it came out even better than I expected…….I hope you can join me for the great cruise across the pond and to some of the best ports in the Mediterranean! Join me on April 27th as we fly to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In Ft. Lauderdale we have included a one-night pre-cruise package with a first-class hotel, breakfast, and all transfers. We will then transfer to Ft. Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, where we will board Holland America Lines ms Noordam. The Noordam is one of Holland America Line’s newer “Vista Class” ships. That evening we will sail from Ft. Lauderdale “across the pond” to Europe. We will have six days to get acquainted with the Noordam and to enjoy all of her features including fine dining, fantastic service and pampering and the ship’s great amenities.
October 19, 2010 Added: 10-21-2010|
I am busy preparing my full e-mail for this week, including the report on the end of our Canada New England cruise……but, as usual, I am behind schedule. I PROMISE that our regular weekly e-mail will come out tomorrow. This week’s e-mail will include a great deal on a spring-time Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic cruise. In the meantime, I just got a new “last minute” offer that is too good to wait another minute………Read on and you’ll see what I’m talking about!
We have a special, exclusive, Travel With Alan deal on two different Caribbean cruises aboard the Azamara Journey. Azamara ships carry only 794 guests and are able to go to some ports that the big ships don’t visit. They have top quality services and amenities, exceptional food and entertainment, and rich itineraries. We have two dates available for a 13-night/14-day Caribbean adventure on this spectacular ship at the rate of only $1999 per person, based on double occupancy. Government taxes and fees of $203. 97 to $205.00 per person are additional. I know that sounds like a super deal, especially for this ship and this itinerary, but when you see all of the extras amenities that are INCLUDED, you will see that our deal is unbelievable!
The week of October 18th to 22nd Added: 10-18-2010|
Alan is here in the office this week working away on getting new offers ready and getting ready for the departure of the Voyager Of The Seas Transatlantic and Mediterranean cruise.
June 9, 2009 Added: 06-10-2009|
Its been a great week here in Seattle.....the weather has been nice and, most importantly, I've been here for it! It's hard to imagine that I'll be home clear until July 4th!
So far this year, we have sent over 600 people to Alaska and we have hundreds more booked in the coming weeks. Please keep watching every Tuesday....we should be adding more Alaska cruises and cruise/tours in the weeks to come!
This week I have two super offers for you. One is brand new and one is a cruise that has been sold out but we now have more space.....both of these are great cruises....but you have to choose one or the other.....they overlap!
MEDITERRANEAN AND TRANS-ATLANTIC CRUISE ABOARD THE VOYAGER OF THE SEAS! Join me, and a group of over 260 people that have already signed up, for a repeat of this fantastic "back to back" cruise! You will depart Seattle (or the city of your choice) on November 21st and fly to Barcelona, Spain. In Barcelona you will have a city tour included which will end at the pier where you will board one of the largest and amenity rich ships in the world, the Voyager of the Seas. In Barcelona we will begin our "back to back" cruise to the following ports:
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Villefranche (Nice/Monte Carlo), France
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Santa Cruz, Canary Island
Crossing the Atlantic
Best of all, we will offer our exclusive Travel With Alan shore excursions in all of the ports of call with the exception of Santa Cruz and Nassau. As for a trans-Atlantic crossing, its hard to do a better job than Royal Caribbean does at keeping everyone entertained during the crossing. Last year we had eight different classes and lecture series. Onboard there are all kinds of activities....even courses in theatre and bartending! Most importantly, the Voyager of the Seas is famous for all of her special extra amenities from in-line skating, rock climbing, miniature golf, and even ice skating! Every night there are big shows in the "La Scala" Theatre and gourmet meals in the exquisite three-level dining room.
Your cruise will end in Galveston, Texas on December 13th. From Galveston, we will transfer you to Houston for your return flight home.
Actually, as usual, the best part about this tour is the price. We have a package price of only $2789 per person, based on double occupancy, INCLUDING an upgrade to a "Level D" Superior Balcony Stateroom. These staterooms are larger than the "Deluxe Balcony Staterooms" with a bit more room, a bit larger balcony, and the prime locations on the ship! (Don't worry, if you had already signed up for a deluxe balcony stateroom, you will be automatically upgraded!) This price also includes the air from Seattle to Barcelona and from Houston to Seattle, the Barcelona city tour, and all transfers! I hope that you can join me for this great cruise around the Mediterranean and "across the pond"! Give Kim a call and she will book you in to your balcony!
MEXICAN RIVIERA CRUISE ABOARD ROYAL CARIBBEAN'S RADIANCE OF THE SEAS! November 30 to December 11, 2009
The other day I was talking to a friend about my very first large cruise group. It was about 25 years ago aboard Admiral Cruise Line's "Stardancer". We did a 7-day cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera and the price was only $799 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air from Seattle.....That was 25 years ago. Today I have an 11-night/12-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera cruise with six different ports of call on a much, much nicer ship for the same price.....$799 per person, including air! (And that's not even adjusting for inflation!) Join us on November 30th as our group will fly non-stop from Seattle to San Diego, California aboard Alaska Airlines. (We have great flights from many other cities as well.....please give us a call for the rate from your city). In San Diego you will have a short transfer from the airport to the cruise ship terminal where you will board the Radiance of the Seas. The Radiance has always been one of my personal favorite ships. From San Diego, you will cruise to:
Cabo san Lucas
San Diego, CA
Imagine.....12 days of sun and fun on a spectacular ship at one of the best times of the year to get away.....between Thanksgiving and Christmas! This deal won't last....only $799 per person, double occupancy....INCLUDING AIR! Give Anna Louise a call here at the office at 425-775-1595 or 1-800-622-3342 to hold your space!
Have a great week.......see you next Tuesday!
HELLO FROM COPENHAGEN Added: 07-15-2008|
am writing to you one day early this week as tomorrow at this time I will be in Copenhagen and probably tired from the long flight! In fact, by the time this e-mail goes out tonight, I will (hopefully) already be seated on my SAS flight bound for Copenhagen.
Yes, it has been another busy week. I just got back on Saturday morning from my Alaskan cruise aboard the ms Oosterdam. It was truly a great cruise. Last week I told you about the beginning of the cruise up until our arrival at Hubbard Glacier. I have to tell you that we had one of my best days at the glacier....ever! The sky was a bit overcast which brought out the beautiful blue colors in the glacier. It didn't rain and it wasn't too cold! The next day we were in Sitka, Alaska. We had a great tour for the group there with visits to the Alaska Raptor Center and the Sitka Historical Museum. We also saw a performance by the Naa Kahídi Dancers. The next morning we were in Ketchikan. Here we had another great tour visiting the Eagle Mountain Salmon Hatchery. We also visited the Totem Museum and Potlatch Park where we were fortunate to find the only woman "master carver", Brita Alander, in her carving shed working on a newly commissioned pole. She welcomed us into her workshop and gave us an explanation about totem poles including how they are carved and what they signify. It is always a special treat when Brita is there. On Friday we were aboard the ship until the early evening. There was a lot going on the ship that day including a question and answer session with the Captain and the finals in the "Oosterdam Superstar" competition. Around 6:00 PM we arrived in Victoria, BC, Canada where we stayed until midnight. It was a beautiful warm evening. I took my traditional walk into and around town before returning to the ship to pack my suitcase. On Saturday morning I woke up to find that we had already docked at Pier 30 in Seattle. Holland America Line's new "silent debarkation" program worked beautifully. We had a leisurely morning including our "last breakfast" before leaving the ship. Once we stepped off of the ship we were through all of the formalities within minutes and everyone was on their way home. I went home, checked my mail, and came into the office to start working on this week's e-mail!
BACK FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE Added: 06-21-2008|
Hello from beautiful (well, maybe not this week) Lynnwood, Washington! I'm back from my week in New Hampshire. I had a great week touring New Hampshire with a small group of other tour operators from across the country. We saw the cities, the Seacoast, the East Side, the Mountains, and the Lakes. We toured the Currier Museum of Art, took a Portsmouth Harbor Cruise, toured the Redhook Brewery and the Portsmouth Music Hall, toured the Warner House, and the Strawbery Banke Historic Living Museum....and that was all in the first day! We started early every morning and went late into the evening.....they wanted us to see and do EVERYTHING! The White Mountains sere beautiful and we toured two scenic railroads. We also did two separate cruises on Lake Winnipwukee and much much more. It was a busy week but very worthwhile.
Since I have been back I have been busy working on some new tours. It seems like they all just came together this afternoon. I don't have time to get everything together for today's e-mail but I am pleased to tell you that I do have an incredible deal on a European River Cruise for this coming November.
I CAN'T BELIEVE ITS ALREADY THE LAST DAY! Added: 02-03-2008|
It's now our last morning in Auckland....but I still have to tell you about our tours in Napier and Tauranga/Rotorua. On Wednesday we landed in Napier. We had one of my favorite tours there. We first went to the Okawa Homestead. This is a private estate where our gracious hosts met us and took us on a walk through their garden. The weather was PERFECT and we had a nice gentle walk with our hosts around their property. Afterward we went to their veranda for morning tea with lots of cakes and cookies. Even their neighbors came to help! Everyone was having a great time, even our hosts who would have just assumed that we spend the entire day with them...but we had more to see! We then went to Brookfields Vineyard. Here we had a nice tasting. We had a nice talk about wines and tasted four of their wines. Our final stop was in Downtown Napier where we stopped at Rush Monroe Ice Cream for a big cone filled with their handmade ice cream before we returned to the ship. Our final shore excursion was in Tauranga. Here we boarded our coach for a nine hour tour into Rotorua. This is always my favorite tour...there is so much to see and do in Rotorua. We first gave everyone a tour of the Public Gardens and the Polynesian Pools. We then went to the Agrodome for their sheep and farm show. It is always interesting for me to see the sheep dogs at work! We then went for a "Hangi"....a Maori feast. Our elected chier, John, met the Maori chief and they let us enter in peace! We had a private show just for our group to learn about the Maori heritage. We then went to see how our lunch was prepared underground. We then enjoyed our feast while we were entertained by a huge company of Maori singers. Our final stop of the day was at Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Here we learned about the Maori culture as well as seeing the thermal reserve. The guysers put on a great show for us! There we also had a chance to see the rare Kiwi bird! We returned to the ship, a bit tired but excited about a great day. That evening the ship put on a huge barbeque for us at poolside. Finally then, we had a day at sea! We were all ready for that after six days in ports (and six tours!). Then, on Saturday,we left the Statendam in Auckland. We boarded our new Auckland coaches and proceeded on a city tour. We saw many of the highlights of Auckland and then checked into our hotel, Rydges Auckland. That evening we had a group dinner in one of the hotel's banquet rooms. Yesterday was a free day and everyone did their own thing. Some went shopping, some took a tour, and some just relaxed. Last night the group met and walked over to Sky City. There we had a huge buffet dinner....I've got to say, it was great! We then took the high-speed elevators to the top of the Sky Tower to enjoy the view of the whole city. We treated everyone to a glass of champagne and had a "farewell toast". Now its the last morning here in Auckland. We're all getting ready to check-out of the hotel at noon and then to proceed on our city tour. This afternoon we'll be visiting the Auckland War Memorial Museum as well as Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World before we make our way to the airport for our return flight. It will be hard to leave the hot weather here for the cold weather back in Seattle!
WE'RE ALREADY IN AUCKLAND Added: 02-02-2008|
I know....once again I've fallen behind in keeping up "Where's Alan".....I will try to do better in the future. It's just that we have had six consecutive days in port and I could barely keep up with my regular e-mails....and keeping the tour going. Anyway, after we left Fjordlands National Park we headed up to Dunedin, New Zealand. We had a great tour here including a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre. These birds are absolutely magnificent. We also went to Penguin Place to see the yellow-eyed penguins. After the bush morning we headed to Larnach Castle. The staff there put on a great lunch for us. Afterward we had a guided tour of the castle. Before returning to the ship we had a bit of free time to wonder about in Downtown Dunedin. The next morning we landed in Timaru. Our coaches were waiting for us and we made our way to Pleasant Point. After touring the Richard Pearse Memorial (they claim that he produced an airplane before the Wright Brothers) we went to the garden and nursery of Benie and Gwenyth Wilson. They were very gracious and welcomed us into their garden for a nice garden walk as well as a delicious morning tea featuring Gwenyth's homemade scones. We then went to the Pleasant Point Railway Station where we boarded their steam train for a ride to their railroad museum in Keanes' Crossing. After touring the museum we reboarded our train for the ride back to Timaru. On Monday we landed in Picton. Here we first went to the town of Blenheim for some free time. We then made our way to Highfield Estate, one of the top local wineries. We had a wine tasting along with some great fruit and cheese. Some of the group even took a wonder through the vineyards while others climbed the winery's tower for a fantastic view of the entire valley. We then went to "The Village" for some more tastings....we even got to try their local "schnapps"! We then returned to the ship for a beautiful sail-away! Tuesday we arrived in Wellington. One of our buses arrived about 20 minutes late to the pier but we were able to get back on course! Here we made our way to the city's cable car which we rode up to the top of the hill for a great view of the capital city. We then reboarded our coaches and made our way half way down the hill to the city's botanical gardens. We toured the rose garden and the greenhouse and others walked the trails through the gardens. We then visited "Te Papa", the National Museum. We had museum guides to take us on a tour of the museum's many exhibits. Here we also had a good introduction to Mauri culture. We then left the museum and went to visit Old St. Paul's Cathedral....a beautiful old wooden church. After the tour, some of the group members stayed downtown while the rest of the group returned to the ship. Oh,its time to go check to be sure that everything is set up for our group's dinner tonight.....I'll tell you about Napier and Rotorua next time!
SAILING UP THE COAST OF NEW ZEALAND Added: 01-27-2008|
After crossing the Tasman Sea, we arrived at Fjordlands National Park. We had perfect weather and our port lecturer gave commentary throughout the day. We were scheduled to visit Milford Sound and Dusky Sound but since it was such a great day out and our timing was good, the captain added an additional call at Doubtful Sound. The cliffs and fjords were magnificent....plus, we saw a bunch of waterfalls. Some of the people in the group saw dolphins...but I didn't see any! After our two days at sea crossing the Tasman and our day viewing the fjords from the ship, we are getting ready to begin our five days in a row in port visiting both the North Island and the South Island of New Zealand.
GREETINGS FROM THE TASMAN SEA! Added: 01-24-2008|
Mid-day on Saturday we boarded our coaches and transfered to the Overseas Pier in Sydney where we boarded the ms Statendam. Once we boarded we got settled in and had lunch. I confirmed all of the dining arrangmenets and found that Holland America had honored all of our dining requests....what a relief! Soon after our boat drill we set sail, sailing right past the Sydney Opera House. Sunday was a day at sea, a chance to get acquainted with the Statendam. Monday morning we landed in Melbourne. Our coaches were waiting for us to take us on a city tour. Melbourne is a beautiful city and we got to see all of the sights. We then had a free afternoon to discover Melbourne on our own. We had a nice sailaway from Melbourne and then on Monday we landed in Burnie, Tasmania. Tasmania is a beautiful island and our tour was fantastic! Today our tour took us to Cradle Mountain National Park. After a morning stop in Shefield to wonder the town and to sample the pies and sausage rolls at the local bakery we headed towards the park. We had a great lunch at the Cradle Mountain Chalet and had a chance to tour their photo gallery. We then went into the park where we boarded mini-buses for the park tour. We toured the park's chalet and then drove to Dove Lake. It was a perfect day and everyone got some great photos. After returning to Burnie, we stopped for at a scenic overlook of the town. We then sailed away for two days in the Tasman Sea.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA! Added: 01-20-2008|
Our first night in Sydney was a "free night". The group that I flew in with had opted to go in to Sydney an extra night before the tour started so once we got checked in, everyone was on their own. I got caught up on my e-mail and settled in for the night. Early the next morning I took a taxi to the airport and met the rest of the group flying in from the USA. Once again, Malcolm met us, loaded up all of our luggage, and took us on a city tour. Once again, our rooms were all ready and everyone's luggage was waiting in their rooms by the time we arrived at the hotel after the tour. That evening the entire group met in one of the hotel's banquet rooms for our "Welcome Dinner". The hotel put on an incredible dinner buffet. It was nice to have the whole group together and settled in! On Thursday, after breakfast at the hotel, we departed on a full-day tour to the Blue Mountains. Our first stop was at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. We got to see all of the Australian native animals and even got to "cuddle a koala"! We then did the complete Blue Mountains tour finishing with the Maxivision movie about the mountains. After the movie we had a dinner right in the cinema complex. By the time we returned to the hotel, it was after 9:00 PM. On Friday we had a free morning. Most of the group went shopping at Paddy's Market....a huge flea market just a couple of blocks from the hotel. That afternoon we boarded our coaches and went to Kangaroo Point, a small town on the Hawksbury River. There we boarded a chartered boat and made our way up the river to Melvy's Wharf. This is my favorite attraction in Sydney. Our hosts, Paul and Wendy were waiting to greet us at their pier. We walked up to their home and took our seats on their verandah which surrounds the house. Even though it was raining when we arrived, the rain soon stopped and we were able to enjoy the view of their magnificent property. We were serenaded by tropical birds as well as their resident "bush musician", Gary. He got the whole group going with his crazy Australian songs while Wendy gave smaller groups a tour of their home, complete with the history of their property. Later we were served a huge dinner featuring "steaks on the barbie". The steaks were completed with Wendy's homemade salads....and lots of local wine and beer. I can't forget the homemade pecan pie made with the pecans right from their property made by their sun Ben. Good times were had by all!! Later that evening we reboarded our boat and made our way back to Kangaroo Point where we reboarded our coaches and returned to Sydney.
OKAY, OKAY.....I'LL WRITE Added: 01-18-2008|
In the last couple of weeks I have heard from many of you asking me to resume my daily "blog" on "Where's Alan"....Okay, I give....I'll start writing again. I thought that with my weekly accounts in my e-mails that it would be enough....but, I'm happy to start keeping a daily account again! Right now I'm in Sydney, Australia. I left Seattle on Sunday, the day after our Cruise and Travel Show. What a busy day that was....over 100 of you signed up for one or more of our tours just on Saturday! After a very late night at the office on Saturday night I went home to unpack, do laundry, and repack! I flew out with half of the group at mid-day on Sunday. We first flew to San Francisco where we met some other members of our group. We then flew on to Auckland, New Zealand and then, finally, to Sydney. One of my regular Sydney "coach captains", Malcolm was there waiting to meet us. After we loaded up all of the luggage we proceeded on a city tour. Even though everyone was tired, I decided to do the tour at this time since the hotel rooms wouldn't be ready yet anyway. After our city tour we proceeded to our hotel, the Citigage Central. Our rooms and keys were all ready and, in fact, our luggage was already in the rooms!
PHILADELPHIA! Added: 10-28-2007|
I know that everyone has been curious about the location of the "mystery tour". Well, we left Seattle early yesterday morning and flew to Philadelphia! Upon arrival we checked in at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Last night we had dinner at the "Italian Bistro", one of the top restaurants in the city. Today we had a city tour with local guides....we saw it all! Then we boarded the "Spirit of Philadelphia" for a great lunch cruise on the Deleware River. We were treated to great views of the city from the water side. We also had a great buffet lunch and some good entertainment. Now we're having some free time at the hotel before the evening's activities.
HELLO FROM SUNNY VICTORIA, BC Added: 10-10-2007|
I know, I know.....I have not been good at keeping up "Where's Alan". I'm in the homestretch of my 5 cruises in a row.....I've really been running. I will try to go back and fill in the blanks. Today I'm in Victoria, BC with a group of 307 people aboard the Celebrity Mercury. It is the most beautiful day here....the sun is shining and it is quite pleasant out. My cousins, Richard and Norene Arnold are helping me with this group. The three of us walked in from the pier at Ogden Point into the city.....it was a perfect day for the walk. We've been walking all over town and now we're in an internet cafe catching up on all of our e-mail. Tomorrow we have a day at sea and then we'll be back in Seattle where I will meet another group and start all over again!
GREETINGS FROM COBH, IRELAND Added: 09-22-2007|
Once again I have fallen behind in keeping up "Where's Alan"....sorry about that. Over the next few days I will try to go back and tell you all about the great "European Sampler" cruise that I am on. We are having a great cruise and the "Jewel of the Seas" is a beautiful ship. We have a group of 197 people and EVERYONE is having a great time. Greg Martin and NanSea Pelletier are here to give me a hand. We've been very busy with tours every day. The internet on the ship has been very slow and wouldn't load my website program....but now we seem to be in business. We'll be meeting the group in an hour and taking them on an all-day tour which will include Blarney Castle. I'm sure that after I kiss the Blarney Stone I'll have a lot to say!
BOY IS LONDON EXPENSIVE! Added: 09-09-2007|
I've really enjoyed my time here in London. Yesterday I walked EVERYWHERE! London is truly an exciting city. Everything is quite expensive here. I find that the prices for everything are almost the same as the prices in the U.S. The problem is that our dollar is worth less than half an English Pound! I think that when my group comes back to London after the cruise they will really appreciate the fact that most everything is pre-paid for them! Tomorrow I'll leave in the wee hours of the morning to travel to Gatwick Airport to meet my group and transfer them to the pier in Harwich.
TOP OF THE MORNING TO YOU FROM LONDON! Added: 09-08-2007|
Our dinner in the Plaka was a big hit! We had a great Greek dinner complete with a band, a singer, Greek dancers, and, of course, a belly dancer! It was a long night and some returned to the hotel early. The evening ended with the "breaking of the plates"! Yesterday morning we had breakfast on the Rooftop Garden of the hotel. It was one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen while enjoying my breakfast. On one side we looked over the Temple of Zeus which was just right across the street. Looking on the other side we looked straight into the Acropolis...it was truly amazing. After breakfast we went to the airport and got everyone checked in for their flights. Then I flew to Rome and onto London. I will now have two "free days" to relax and get ready for my next group that will arrive early on Monday morning.
ITS THE MOST PERFECT SUNNY DAY IN ATHENS Added: 09-06-2007|
We arrived in Pireus early this morning. Our group assembled at 9:00 AM. We handed out all of the passports and we were off...in record time. We boarded our buses and proceeded to Athens. It is the most perfect and clear day here in Athens. The blue waters of the Mediterranean are incredible and with the clear air today you can see for miles. Right from the pier we could already see the Acropolis! We had a nice sightseeing tour and then the group went to the Acropolis with their local guides. Meanwhile I came to the hotel with the luggage. Soon everyone will be returning from the Acropolis tour and they will find that they are already checked into their rooms and the luggage is already in the rooms! We are staying at the new Athens Gate Hotel. It is a beautiful new hotel with an incredible location. Tonight we're having a big dinner in the Plaka!
I CAN'T BELIEVE THE CRUISE IS ALMOST OVER! Added: 09-05-2007|
After Livorno we cruised the Italian Coast and ended up in Civitavechia, Italy. From there we had a very full day traveling to Rome. We had two great guides in Rome. We had a special timed appointment to enter the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Afterward we tour St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square. We then reboarded our coaches and had a delicious Roman lunch (with wine, of course!). In the afternoon we toured the Trevi Fountain the Coluseum, and the Spanish Steps before we returned back to the ship. Then we had our last day at sea. On the 2nd we landed in Dubrovnik. Once again we were met by two coaches and two local guides for a tour of this beautiful city. We first went out of town to Ston where we saw the second largest city wall in the world, second only to the Great Wall of China. Many of us climbed the wall and others enjoyed touring the city. We then had a light lunch with a great view of the sea. After lunch we return to Dubrovnik for a walking tour of this incredible city. The next morning we woke up in Corfu, Greece. We had a very short stop here but we again had two coaches and local guides waiting for us for another super tour. Yesterday we had a later arrival (11 AM) in Santorini, Greece. We were the first ones off the ship to meet our coaches and guides for a tour of this beautiful island. This was my first visit to Santorini and I must say that I was very impressed. This is definitely a city that I would like to return to and spend more time. We had a complete tour of the island with a great Greek lunch...my favorite meal of the cruise, so far! At the end of the tour everyone was given a ticket that they could use to either take a cable car back to the tender port or to take a donkey ride down the mountain. I took the cable car! Today we were in Kusadasi, Turkey. We had two incredible guides who took us to the House of Virgin Mary, Ephesus, and Kusadasi. Ephesus is an amazing place...probably the best excavation site I've seen anywhere in the world. After the tour we all went shopping the the Grand Bazaar. Now we're cruising towards Piraeus, Greece. Tomorrow morning we will all leave the ship in Piraeus and ride to Athens where we will have a one-night stay.
CRUISING OFF THE COAST OF SICILY Added: 09-01-2007|
After Lisbon we sailed to one of my favorite port cities. Gibralter. We arrived in Gibralter mid-day and had a short tour in three mini buses. These are the largest vehicles that can navigate the narrow and twisty roads of this very unusual city. We toured the Caves of St. Michael and saw the small apes running around. After our tour we had some free time for all of the duty-free shopping. After Gibralter we FINALLY had another day at sea....everyone was quite ready for that! The following day, August 29th we landed in Toulon, France. I didn't have my own tour in Toulon so everyone went in their own direction. Some of the group went to St. Tropez and some went to Aix en Provance. Many of the group, including myself, spent the day just wandering Toulon. Many, including myself, even took the mini-train tour of the city. It is a beautiful spot. Our next stop was in Livorno, Italy. We had a big group for our tour and the ship's comedian, Steve Mongollo, came along to help out with the tour. We first went to the old walled city of Lucca. We had guides waiting for us in Lucca to take us on a walking tour of the city followed by just a bit of free time. We then went to a Tuscan farmhouse, Fattoria Michi, for a brief wine tour followed by an incredible lunch...with lots of Tuscan wine! After lunch we went to Pisa. There our guides took us on a tour of the Field of Miracles and the famous Leaning Tower. After a bit of free time in Pisa we reboarded our buses for the trip back to Livorno and the beautiful ms Rotterdam!
CRUISING THE MEDITERRANEAN ABOARD THE ms ROTTERDAM Added: 08-31-2007|
In my last entry I told you about our flight to London and our boarding the ship in Harwich, England. The next day, on August 23rd. we landed in La Havre, France. We had a great tour into Normandy visiting some of the WWII landing beaches. We had an incredible guide as well as a great French lunch. We then had a day at sea and enjoyed the chance to explore the Rotterdam. On August 25th we landed in Vigo, Spain. I had never been to Vigo before and I must say that I was very impressed with the city. We had a tour to Santiago de Compostelo. We toured the cathedral and the city and, of course, had a great Spanish lunch! The next day we were in Lisbon, Portugal. Here we just had a 1/2 day tour of the city in the morning. Some people stayed in town for the afternoon but, since it was Sunday, many of the shops and business were closed so many of the people just decided to relax on the ship in the afternoon. The weather has been quite warm but not too bad. I'll tell you more in tomorrow's update!
BON JOUR FROM TOULON, FRANCE! Added: 08-28-2007|
Hello from aboard the ms Rotterdam in Toulon, France. I have to apologize for not keeping this part of the website updated lately. I was home for a couple of weeks and I just got out of the habit. (There's really not too much to tell you about when I'm home!). Anyway, I will keep this updated daily for the next two months. I left Seattle on August 21st and flew to London with 80 guests. Upon arrival we immediately transfered to the Port of Harwich where we boarded Holland America Line's ms Rotterdam. Right now I'm on a 15-day cruise that will end in Athens, Greece. We will then spend one night in Athens. My group will then fly back to the U.S. but I will fly to London. After two nights in London I will meet 197 new guests who will be doing my 14-day "European Sampler" cruise. After that cruise we will spend two nights in London. I willl then fly back to New York with my group. From New York, all of the group members will catch their domestic connecting flights. I will remain in New York where the next day I will be meeting 185 new guests who will be taking my "Canada and New England" cruise. After that cruise I will fly home to Seattle where the next day I will be boarding the Celebrity Mercury with 320 guests for a "Pacific Northwest" cruise. After that cruise I will remain onboard the Mercury where I will meet another group for a 3-night Pacific Northwest cruise. After that I will finally get back to my own apartment....after being gone for just shy of two months! I will keep you updated each day. During the next few days I will also backtrack to tell you about this past week aboard the ms Rotterdam!
OUR LAST DAY IN ALASKA Added: 08-09-2007|
Yesterday we had a fantastic ride on the Alaska Railroad from Denali to Anchorage. The sun was shining and the scenery was spectacular. We checked in last night at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage and had the rest of the evening free. Now we are about to get on our coach for an Anchorage city tour and then we're off to the airport for our return flights home.
HELLO FROM DENALI NATIONAL PARK Added: 08-08-2007|
Our land tour has been going very well....even though our perfect weather has left us. Although we've had some rain, it always seems to come at the right time...when we're indoors. Today was a great day. We took the train from Fairbanks to Denali. We transfered to our hotel but didn't even have time to get to our rooms before we boarded our bus for our park tour. Now we are having a free evening and then tomorrow we will continue our train journey to Anchorage.
MY BAGS ARE PACKED...I'M READY TO GO Added: 08-05-2007|
Today was a full day at sea cruising across the Gulf of Alaska. Actually, today was our first gray and rainy day....but it was a good day for that as we were just cruising north to Seward. Today we passed by a beach loaded with hundreds of sea lions. In the evening we cruised through College Fjord. The visibility was not great but we did get to see all of the glaciers. Now I'm all packed and ready to get some sleep before our morning departure to Anchorage for our flight to Fairbanks.
TWO GREAT DAYS IN A ROW....SKAGWAY AND GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK Added: 08-04-2007|
Early yesterday morning we arrived in Skagway. It was an overcast morning but it was warm and dry! Our tour left at 9:00 AM and we headed for White Pass. By the time we were half way up the pass, the sun was shining through the clouds. We had a beautiful day and some great photo opportunities on the pass as well as at the City Overlook and the Gold Rush Cemetary. We then had the rest of the day free in Skagway to explore this old "gold rush" town. Last night we had a beautiful sail-away from Skagway and later in the night we had a spectacular sunset. Today we have been in Glacier Bay National Park. It was an unbelievable day. The sun was shining and there was no rain (something you never take for granted in Southeast Alaska!). People were out on deck, some in just short sleeved shirts enjoying all of the scenery. Captain Bos took us right up to the face of several glaciers in the park. We were also met by two park rangers and an Alaskan Native guide who were with us the entire day. Now we are sailing north across the Gulf of Alaska. Tomorrow evening we will visit College Fjord and then on Sunday morning we will land in Seward.
A BEAUTIFUL EVENING IN JUNEAU Added: 08-01-2007|
We had a nice sail from Ketchikan to Juneau. This morning I woke up and we were already docked in Juneau. It was a perfect day...overcast with the sun shining through. I took the group on a Juneau tour including the Mendenhall Glacier and the salmon hatchery. It was also a busy day in the office. We sold out all 108 places in our "mystery tour" in just 3 hours! We're getting ready now to sail on to Skagway.
DEJA VU Added: 07-31-2007|
I feel like I'm doing my last tour all over again! On Sunday I boarded our motor coach and went up to Vancouver to board Holland America Line's ms Statendam. Once again, my mother Babette went to Southcenter to check in the group and I went up to Lynnwood. We had another group of 52 people going to Vancouver to cruise to Alaska. I then stepped on the Statendam which really gave me "double deja vu"! First of all, the Statendam is an indentical twin sister of the ms Ryndam, which I took to Alaska two weeks ago. Also, I was aboard the Statendam for 20 days in March sailing from Syndey,Australia to Hong Kong so I know many of the staff members aboard. We had a beautiful sail away from Vancouver and yesterday was a perfect day sailing up the Inside Passage. Today we arrived early in the morning in Ketchikan. My chartered coach was waiting to take us on a city tour. The weather was as good as it gets in Ketchikan....overcast, about 65 degrees, and NO RAIN! We are now getting ready to leave Ketchikan and make our way to Juneau.
DEJA VU Added: 07-31-2007|
I feel like I'm doing my last tour all over again! On Sunday I boarded our motor coach and went up to Vancouver to board Holland America Line's ms Statendam. Once again, my mother Babette went to Southcenter to check in the group and I went up to Lynnwood. We had another group of 52 people going to Vancouver to cruise to Alaska. I then stepped on the Statendam which really gave me "double deja vu"! First of all, the Statendam is an indentical twin sister of the ms Ryndam, which I took to Alaska two weeks ago. Also, I was aboard the Statendam for 20 days in March sailing from Syndey,Australia to Hong Kong so I know many of the staff members aboard. We had a beautiful sail away from Vancouver and yesterday was a perfect day sailing up the Inside Passage. Today we arrived early in the morning in Ketchikan. My chartered coach was waiting to take us on a city tour. The weather was as good as it gets in Ketchikan....overcast, about 65 degrees, and NO RAIN! We are now getting ready to leave Ketchikan and make our way to Juneau.
ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY IN ANCHORAGE Added: 07-17-2007|
The weather here has been unbelievable. I hope that my group that is continuing on the cruise is enjoying the same kind of weather! Yesterday I did some shopping at the Downtown Mall. One thing that is especially nice about shopping in ?Anchorage is that there is no sales tax! Now I'm getting ready to head to the airport for my flight to Seattle.
STILL SUNNY IN ANCHORAGE! Added: 07-16-2007|
We had a great tour yesterday in Seward. The hightlight of the tour was our visit to the Seavey Family's "Ididaride Experience". We got to play with the dogs including the newborn puppies, learn about life on the Ididarod Trail, and then go on a wheeled sled ride with a team of huskies! Afterward we had a visit to Kenai Fjords National Park to see the Exit Glacier. I then returned the group to the ship and waited for my ride back to Anchorage. Today I'm in Anchorage....I'll fly home tomorrow. The weather here is perfect....about 70 degrees with a cool breeze!
HELLO FROM SUNNY SEWARD! Added: 07-15-2007|
The exceptional weather is still going! This morning we docked early in Seward. I awoke to the sun beating in through my window. It is the most perfect day that you could hope for in Seward! Last night we had a spectacular sail through College Fjord. The sun was shining as we went by all of the glaciers in the fjord. Our ship cut through a sea of ice as we got right up to the glaciers. Today I'm meeting the group to take them on the "Ididaride" tour. This is the homestead of the Seavey family who every year puts up teams for the Ididarod race. We'll get to play with the dogs and even take a sled ride. After I return my group to the ship, I'm off to Anchorage and then back to Seattle.
A SPECTACULAR DAY CROSSING THE GULF OF ALASKA Added: 07-14-2007|
The weather today is perfect. In fact, I would have to say that the weather the last two days has more than made up for the rain that we had earlier in the cruise. Today people are outside swimming in the pools! The seas are calm and the sun is out. This evening we will be sailing through College Fjord and tomorrow morning we will dock in Sweard.
LEAVING GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK Added: 07-13-2007|
Yesterday we had a great day in Skagway. Although we had fog and drizzle in the morning, the skies eventually cleared up. We had a great tour up White Pass including a visit to the Gold Rush Cemetary where we learned a bit about "Soapy" Smith. We returned to the ship at noon and had the rest of the day in Skagway...all the way until 9:00 PM. I took an evening stroll into town and found the local internet cafe! Early this morning we entered into Glacier Bay National Park. Finally, we had a perfect day. The weather was great and we got right up to the face of the glaciers! People saw a lot of wildlife today including seals, orcas, and humpbacks! The glaciers were beautiful...one of the best glacier experiences I've had in a long time. Tomorrow we have a day at sea and then, in the evening, we be at College Fjord to see all of the glaciers there.
GREETINGS FROM RAINY JUNEAU! Added: 07-11-2007|
This morning the weather started out very nice. We did have some light sprinkles but the temperature was around 60 degrees. Now its 8:45 PM and the temperature is about the same but the rain has picked up a bit. We did have a great tour this morning with "Smokey". We went to Douglas Island, the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center, the Chapel By The Lake, and the McCauley Salmon Hatchery. We're staying in port until 10:30 tonight so some of the group members are over at the Red Dog Saloon to see the native Alaskan wildlife!
GREETINGS FROM RAINY KETCHIKAN Added: 07-10-2007|
We had a nice bus ride up to Vancouver and we were all aboard the ms Ryndam within 15 minutes from our arrival at the Canada Place Pier in Vancouver. The ship is looking great and we've had a beautiful sail up the Inside Passage. This morning we arrived in Ketchikan. Although its been grey and rainy, we had a great tour with our driver/guide "Longwind"! Now the rain has stopped and we have some free time here in Ketchikan. We will sail at 3 PM and then this evening at 5 PM I will be hosting my "Travel With Alan" cocktail party in the Explorer's Lounge aboard the ship.
I'M STILL HERE! Added: 07-07-2007|
Boy, I just realized that its been four weeks since I last wrote to you. Actually, I've been home now for four weeks....hard to believe...but I'm getting ready to take off in the morning for yet another cruise to Alaska. This cruise will be a bit different...starting in Vancouver and going all the way up to Seward. I promise to write each day and let you know what's going on!
GREETINGS FROM VICTORIA Added: 06-08-2007|
We've had another super week in Alaska....hardly any rain! The ship has been great and everyone has had a great time! All of our "shore excursions" have gone without a hitch and were all very well received! We just pulled into Victoria and we'll stay here until midnight. Tomorrow morning we'll dock in Seattle and then it will be back to the real world!
CRUISING NORTH TO ALASKA Added: 06-03-2007|
Check-in yesterday at Pier 30 was a breeze. We got everyone on the ship and sailed promptly at 4 PM. The seas are much calmer this week....Last week, at the beginning of the cruise, we had rough seas but this week everything is very calm. The weather is a bit cool but even though the skies are overcast, the views are clear. The scenery is spectacular....the mountains are beautiful. Tonight we will have our first "formal night" and tomorrow we will be in Juneau.
BACK IN SEATTLE AT PIER 30 Added: 06-02-2007|
It's been a great cruise aboard the Oosterdam. After we left Juneau we went to the Hubbard Glacier. We made our way up Yakutat Bay and up to the face of the glacier. Our captain, Captain Mercer, got us closer than any other ship. The views were spectacular! On Wednesday we anchored off of Sitka. Our group had a great tour including the Russian Dancers, the Raptor Center, the Sitka Museum, and the Native Dancers. Then on Thursday we came to Ketchikan just for the morning. We arrived at 7 AM and left by 1 PM. We took a tour around the city that included the new Potlatch Park. Potlatch Park is a new totem center. We were able to see the only woman "master carver" at work in the totem shed. Yesterday we arrived in Victoria in the evening. Actually, we arrived early and the weather was perfect! Many people took tours but others, including myself, just went into town and enjoyed the nice evening. New we are back at Pier 30. Everyone from the group has disembarked and now I am waiting for my 97 new guests to arrive and check-in!
A GREAT DAY IN JUNEAU! Added: 05-29-2007|
The Oosterdam is a great ship and the whole group is having a great time. We've been very fortunate with the weather. Although its been a bit cool it has been dry and pretty clear with some overcast skies. Yesterday we had our tour of Juneau. The Mendenhall Glacier was looking great and reflecting some beautiful shades of blue. We had a nice sailing out of Juneau last night and today we're headed for the Hubbard Glacier.
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Added: 05-28-2007|
Two days ago, on Saturday, I got a ride down to Pier 30 and boarded the ms Oosterdam. We have a big group, 145 people so Greg Martin is helping me again with this group. We sailed Saturday afternoon from Seattle and had a beautiful sail-away and cruise through Puget Sound. Its now Monday morning and we're due to arrive in Juneau at 11:00 AM. The Oosterdam is looking great and the staff is excellent.
BACK IN SEATTLE! Added: 05-25-2007|
Well, I let myself get behind in my "Where's Alan" postings. I will try to be better. We were so busy in Branson that I just let "Where's Alan" slide. I'll try to be better. We had such a great tour in Branson...and we did everything! We stayed in the best hotel for a tour group in Branson, the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. It has the friendliest staff in town and it has the best location. On Friday we headed to Downtown Branson to take the "Ride the Ducks" tour. We then had some free time at the new Branson Landing. Everyone had a voucher for Charley's Sub Shop at the Landing so that we could all get our lunch at our leisure.After some free time at the hotel we went to see one of the hottest tickets in Branson, Daniel O'Donnell. We then had an Ozark Dinner at McFarlain's Restaurant where they say "Life is Uncertain, Eat Dessert First"! After dinner we went to see Shoji Tabuchi, the famous Japanese violinist. His huge production show is nothing short of spectacular. On Saturday we drove down to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We stopped for lunch at the Cattleman's Restaurant. We had a tour there of the Livestock Auction. We then had a great home-cooked lunch and enjoyed some great entertainment. We then drove to Eureka Springs where we met Joe Gunnels, who was our tour guide for the rest of the afternoon. We toured the whole town both on our bus and by a special tram. That night we had dinner at the sight of the Great Passion Play. We then went to the Pine Mountain Jamboree for their show before making our way back to Branson. On Sunday we had a later start since we got back very late on Saturday. We had a huge Sunday Brunch and then saw the Sunday Gospell Show. That night wae had a huge dinner at the Outback Steak and Oyster Bar and then went to see the Acrobats of China. What a show that was...unbelievable! On Monday we went to see the Hughes Brothers. Their show was a huge hit...especially all of the Hughes Children in the show. We then had lunch at Montana Mike's Steakhouse. Our next stop was the College of the Ozarks where we had a tour of the campus with a student guide. This is a very interesting college where the students work for their tuition. After some free time at the hotel we went to the Dixie Stampede for their dinner and show. On Monday morning we said goodbye to everyone at the Fairfield Inn and drove to Springfield where we toured the Fantastic Caverns. We then had a big buffet lunch at the Golden Corral before we made our way back to the St. Louis Airport for our return flights home. All 52 of us on the tour had a great time. I can hardly wait to return to Branson!
HELLO FROM BRANSON! Added: 05-20-2007|
After one day at home I met my new group at Sea-Tac and flew with them on our non-stop flight to St. Louis. In St. Louis we were met by our favorite Branson tour driver, Lucy Bleisch. We then went directly to our hotel, the Drury Plaza, located right in the heart of the city. We met for the hotel's nightly cocktail reception. This was a great chance to mingle and meet everyone from the tour. We then went to historic Lacleed's Landing where we attended the "Royal Dumpe Dinner Theatre"....that was a hoot! On Wednesday we had a St. Louis city tour with a local guide. Our tour ended at Maggie O'Brien's Tavern where we had a very nice lunch. Following lunch we walked across the street to the Union Station. This is the old train station that has been converted into a hotel and shopping mall complex. Following some free time we met a guide from Union Station who gave us a walking tour through the old station pointing out its unique designs and features. Following some free time at the hotel (and another cocktail reception!), we reboarded our coach and went to the historic Bevo Mill, where we had a great German dinner. We then went to the Fabulous Fox theatre where we saw the national touring company perform "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". On Thursday we went to Grant's Farm. We saw all of the animal exhibits and shows and had lunch in their Brat Haus. We then drove to St. James, Missouri for a winery tour and tasting. We continued on to Springfield, Missouri where we visited the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World. After some free time for shopping we had a seafood buffet dinner at Hemmingway's Blue Water Cafe, right in the Bass Pro Shop. Our final stop for the day was here in Branson. The group is all checked in and ready for the next leg of our adventure!
BACK HOME AFTER THE ONE-NIGHT CRUISE! Added: 05-13-2007|
What an operation! On Saturday morning we put 1068 people on buses from Seattle to Vancouver. I must say that, thanks to all of the help from many of my co-workers, Kristi, Kathy, Robert, and Naomi, along with Dave, Check, Julie, and A.J., we got everyone on their way to Vancouver right on time! Although there was a delay at the pier when the computers went down, we got everyone on the ship pretty quickly and everyone had a great evening aboard the Noordam. I will now have one day in the office before I take off for Branson.
HELLO FROM SUNNY LYNNWOOD Added: 05-11-2007|
I'm back in the office! I flew home on Tuesday night from Barcelona with my group. Although it was long, it was a very pleasant flight from Barcelona to Newark and then on to Seattle. All 60 of us returned home...and back to reality! Our last night in Barcelona was fantastic. We had a great dinner on the Barcelona Waterfront complete with several different kinds of "tapas" along with their famous local dish, paella. Everyone enjoyed the dinner (and all of the wine!). This week I have been putting together some new tours which will be featured in this Tuesday's e-mail. There are some good ones so be sure to look for your e-mail on Tuesday evening!
HOLA FROM SUNNY BARCELONA! Added: 05-07-2007|
I arrived early yesterday morning in Barcelona. Since I didn´t have any checked luggage I got through Customs quickly and hopped in a taxi and went to the pier. I arrived just as my group was finishing their loading of the buses. I went to the hotel with them where I was surprised to find out that our rooms were ready! We put our things away and hopped back on the buses for a Barcelona city tour. Afterward we returned to the hotel and had some free time before we had dinner in the hotel last night. Today we have a free day. It is a beautiful day here in Barcelona....sunny and about 75 degrees....perfect! Tonight we´re going to have a ¨farewell dinner¨on the Barcelona Waterfront. Tomorrow morning we have an early departure for the airport and our return flights home.
HELLO FROM NEWARK, NEW JERSEY....ON MY WAY TO SPAIN Added: 05-05-2007|
We had a nice sail-away from Astoria and made our way to Vancouver. Since the ship wasn't arriving in Vancouver until 9:30 AM, we all had a nice view of Vancouver sailing under the Lion's Gate Bridge. We docked in Vancouver and boarded our coaches for our transfer back to Seattle. The pier was so congested that there was a bit of "mass confusion" but we finally all made it oun our buses and back to the Seattle area. I took the last bus to Sea-Tac. After we got everyone on their way home, I checked in for my "red-eye" flight to Newark. I arrived here early this morning and checked into a hotel for the day. This evening I will board my non-stop flight to Barcelona where I will meet my trans-Atlantic cruise group that I took down to Galveston two weeks ago.
HELLO FROM ASTORIA, OREGON Added: 05-03-2007|
I think they should name me the honerary mayor of Astoria...I've been here so many times lately! We had perfect weather in Ft. Lauderdale. I met the new group and got them to the hotel. On Monday we had a Ft. Lauderdale city tour and then went to the pier to board the ms Amsterdam. We had a little delay getting on the ship because the people disembarking were coming off of the 105-day "World Cruise". Of course, Customs wanted to give everyone a good looking over! Once we got on the ship I met up with Mom and Dad and had lunch with them. We then had a meeting with the bar manager and the guest relations manager before I left the ship. I then went to the airport and found out that my flight had been delayed. I was assured that I would have plenty of connecting time. I got on the plane, got settled into my seat, and fell asleep! When I woke up I looked at my watch and was very pleased to realize that I had slept through over half of the flight. It was then that I looked out the window and realized that we were still on the ground! Anyway, I missed my connection so I had the airline re-route me to Los Angeles. I got a hotel room and got about five hours of sleep and then went to LAX to meet all of the new people coming into Los Angeles for our cruise aboard the Norwegian Star. Greg Martin, who is helping me with this tour, got to Sea-Tac Airport early to help direct all of the group members as did my assistant, Kristi Adams. Everything went very well....we had six big group arrivals between LAX and Long Beach Airport. We got everyone right through the airport and to the pier. NCL did a fantastic job getting everyone right aboard the ship. We are now sailing up the coast to Vancouver. Today we have a short port call in Astoria before we arrive in Vancouver tomorrow morning. Even though there is a bit of a nip in the air, it is a clear and sunny day!
HELLO AGAIN FROM SUNNY FT. LAUDERDALE Added: 04-29-2007|
Its a beautiful sunny day here in Ft. Lauderdale. After I left the internet cafe in Manhattan I went to the Port Authority Building to catch the express bus to the Newark Airport. Of course, I had to stop along the way to pick up a "knish" from one of the street carts. I had a nice flight getting in around midnight. I rented a car and drove to my hotel where I've had a day and a half of "free time"! Now I'm getting ready to meet the new arrivals who are coming in for their Panama Canal cruise. Tomorrow I'll take them all on a city tour and then deliver them to Mom and Dad on the ship.
HELLO FROM MANHATTAN! Added: 04-27-2007|
I just said goodbye to my parents and they are off sailing down to Ft. Lauderdale. Right now I'm in a deli on the internet in Manhattan. I'm off to the airport in Newark for my flight to Ft. Lauderdale!
HELLO FROM THE BIG APPLE....NEW YORK, NEW YORK! Added: 04-27-2007|
A lot has gone on since I logged on last week. On Friday night I flew back to Seattle. I was in the office on Saturday and Sunday and then early Monday morning I flew to Houston with my group that is now traveling across the Atlantic on the Splendour of the Seas. I flew home late Monday night and I was in the office on Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday morning I flew on an early morning flight from Seattle to New York. Right now its 3 AM here but my body clock is a bit "confused"! In a few hours I'm going to meet the 94 people in my group and take then on a New York City tour. Our tour will end at the Port of New York where the group will board Holland America Line's ms Amsterdam for a 21-day cruise through the Panama Canal. My parents Irwin and Babette are here with me and they will be taking over the group and cruising with them all the way back to Seattle. Meanwhile, I will fly tomorrow night to Ft. Lauderdale to meet another 37 people who are flying in to join the same ship for the Panama Canal cruise. I'll fill you in from down in sunny Ft. Lauderdale!
HELLO FROM SUNNY FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA Added: 04-19-2007|
Greetings all! After three busy weeks in the office, I'm on the road again. Yesterday I flew from Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale with 80 people. We transfered from the airport to the beautiful new Springhill Suites hotel. Today I went with the group to the pier here in Ft. Lauderdale and got them quickly checked-in for their 17-day cruise through the Panama Canal all the way to Seattle. I'm going to fly home tonight and tomorrow I'll be back at it in the office.
HOME SWEET HOME Added: 04-07-2007|
Sorry I've lagged behind again in keeping up "Where's Alan"....There's just not that much to say when I'm here in Seattle. We've been really busy in the office getting everything ready for all of our upcoming tours....and there are a lot of them. This is the second weekend in a rown that I've had a "weekend sale" on a cruise to Alaska....the deals have been unbelievable...and we're taking a lot of bookings! Stay tuned.
LAST MORNING IN HONG KONG Added: 03-24-2007|
Its hard to believe that we're coming to the end of our 30 day cruise and tour through Australia and Asia. Yesterday we had a free day until 2 PM. We then loaded our 3 coaches with our 3 local guides and went back over to Hong Kong Island. Our first stop was at Repulse Bay where we had a chance to see the beaches and the statue garden. We then went to Stanley Market for a last-minute shopping opportunity. We then went to Cyberport for a grand Farewell Dinner. We returned to Hong Kong for our last night. I had a chance to meet my Chinese "brother" Simon and his wife, Linda, who made a special trip here from Guangzhou to say hello and to see all of the people who have been on his previous tours in China. Now it is the last morning. I just saw our first group off to the airport. My colleague, Greg, went with the early group flying home on United Airlines. In two hours I will meet the second group who will be flying home on Korean Air with me to Seattle. Its been a great tour and we had a great group! I'll be back in the office on Monday working on putting together some more tours....so, stay tuned!
HELLO FROM HONG KONG! Added: 03-23-2007|
We arrived yesterday morning in Hong Kong. After a quick departure from the pier we proceeded on our Kowloon tour. We visited the Wong Tai Sin Temple as well as the Bird Street and the Jade Market. After our tour we checked into the Holiday Inn Golden Mile.....in my opinion, one of the best hotels in Hong Kong...certainly the best location! Today we had a tour of Hong Kong Island. We went to the top of Victoria Peak by way of the Peak Tram. We then took a sampan ride through Aberdeed Harbor followed by lunch at the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant. Tonight we are having a free evening in Hong Kong.
HELLO FROM ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING CITIES IN THE WORLD, HONG KONG! Added: 03-22-2007|
We had a great day in Singapore.....It could have been a little bit longer but nevertheless, it was great. Our buses were waiting for us on the pier and as soon as the ship was cleared we boarded our buses and took a city tour of Singapore. We went to the Botanical Garden and saw their collection of over 8000 orchids. We then visited this great city and included stops at Chinatown, Arab Street and the famous Raffles Hotel. We then set sail to Nha Trang, Vietnam. We had a great tour there also of all of the highlights of this incredible seaside town and had a great Vietnamese lunch. We then had a day at sea and this morning we sailed into one of the most beautiful harbors in the world, Hong Kong.
A NICE DAY AT SEA! Added: 03-17-2007|
I'm sorry that its been a few days since I added an entry. We had been so busy with our tours and then when we had a sea day, the internet went down! We had two great port calls in Indonesia. Our arrival into Bali was great. We were greated at the pier by several representatives from our local tour operator. They met us, loaded us on the buses and took us on a tour of the Bali countryside. We made a stop at a plantation where we had a chance to taste their coffee, teas, and fruits. We then had a shopping opportunity at a local store before we went to the Bali Cultural Center which was reserved exclusively for our group. We had a greeting parade with at least 30 musicians and dancers. We then had a huge Balinese lunch buffet followed by a dance show. At the end we all had a chance to try Balinese dancing and to have our photos with all of the beautifully costumed dancers. After Bali we had a day to relax at our home away from home....the ms Statendam. Yesterday we were in port all day in Semarang, Indonesia. Once again we had a special greeting for our group. When we pulled into the port we heard some beautiful Indonesian music. When we went out on deck we realized that the band was their exclusively for our group! They were holding a big banner saying "Welcome Travel With Alan and Carlson Wagonlit Travel"! After our group disembarked we went over to where the band was for a dance show. We then boarded our buses and went to Borabadur, the famous temple site. We had arranged for a special police escort so that all of our buses cut right through all of the traffic. The special police were maniacs, waving their arms out of both sides of the police car (with the lights going and the siren blaring) and cutting through all of the traffic. We didn't even have to stop for red lights! We had a great tour of the temple with most of the group climbing all the way to the top. Afterward we had a Javanese lunch buffet (with a cup of java, of course!). Afterward we boarded our buses for another mad ride back to the ship! Today we are enjoying another day at sea and preparing for our arrival tomorrow in Singapore.
OUR LAST AUSTRALIAN PORT....DARWIN Added: 03-10-2007|
We had two more great days at sea. Last night we had our Travel With Alan cocktail party. Everyone came and we had a beautiful sunset from the Crow's Nest Lounge in addition to great cocktails and a great time. This morning we landed in Darwin. We had three coaches lined up for a city tour including a visit to the Crocodile Farm where we saw a feeding. We also visited the Darwin Museum. We're now getting ready to set sail to Bali, Indonesia!
FINALLY....A DAY AT SEA! Added: 03-08-2007|
Its hard to believe that we've been aboard the Statendam for six days! We had a beautiful sail-away from Syndey Harbour right past "The Rocks" and the Syndey Opera House. Saturday we had a day at sea. This was a great opportunity for everyone to relax after our four busy days in Sydney. This also gave everyone a chance to explore the Statendam....our home for the next 20 days! On Sunday we landed in Brisbane. Our group had a great tour in Brisbane. We spent a good part of the day at the Australian Zoo....Steve Irwin's (The Crocodile Hunter's) park. We saw all of the shows and attractions. Afterward we had a nice tour of the city before returning to the ship. Monday was another "day at sea"! Everyone has been enjoying all of the activities and special lectures onboard the ship. Tuesday we anchored off of Hamilton in the Whitsunday Islands. This was a great day for our group. We had chartered a large 300 passenger catamaran for an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. This was fantastic because it was just our group....we had 106 of us that day...aboard the boat. We went out to a private pontoon over the reef and had time to snorkel, ride in a glass bottom boat, ride in a submarine, and just relax on the water. We got special permission for our catamaran to tie up right next to the Statendam, so our group was the first group off of the ship! On our way back to the Statendam we had a great buffet lunch that was prepared fresh on the catamaran! Wednesday was another highlight of the tour. We were in Cairns and we had a great private tour that day as well. We went to Kuranda, a small mountain village and had time to wander through the town. We then boarded "Skyrail" for a sky-ride through the canopy of the rain forest....it was spectacular! We then visited the Tjapukai Aboriginal Center where we had a great lunch and saw their shows and activities to learn about these people! Now we're back aboard the Statendam. We have three days at sea before we reach our next port of call, Darwin, Australia!
GETTING READY TO SAIL AWAY FROM SYDNEY HARBOUR! Added: 03-01-2007|
Yesterday was a FANTASTIC day! We had a free morning. Most of the group went shopping at Paddy's Market...just 1 1/2 blocks from the hotel. Yesterday afternoon we boarded our coaches and made our way to Kangaroo Point where we boarded our private ferry and made our way up the Hawksberry River to Melvy's Wharf, a private estate on the river. Our hosts, Wendy and Paul, were there to greet us and treated us (as usual) to a fantastic evening of music, wine, and a great dinner featuring "steaks on the barbie"! Everyone had a great time. We came back last night for our last night in Sydney. Today we will transfer to Circular Quay where we will board the ms Statendam!
HELLO FROM "DOWN UNDER"! Added: 02-28-2007|
We've had a busy couple of days here in Sydney. On Tuesday we had a city tour. Everyone had the morning to rest up and enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon we loaded up our coaches and did a tour of Sydney with our local driver/guides. We went all around the city and out to Bondi Beach. Our tour ended up in "The Rocks" section of Sydney where we had a great seafood dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant...one of Sydney's best. Yesterday we left in the morning and drove out to the Blue Mountains. We made a stop at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. We had a chance to have pictures taken with a Koala, play with the kangaroos, and see all kinds of wildlife from Australia. We then went to the Blue Mountains. When we arrived it started to rain in buckets. While a few members of our group got soaked, most of us stayed relatively dry. Actually, after about 15 minutes, most of the rain stopped. Our tour ended up at the Maxi-Vision movie. We saw a great film about the Blue Mountains and then had a buffet dinner right in the theatre comples before we returned back to our hotel in Sydney. Today we have a free morning and then, this afternoon, we are taking a cruise up the Hawksberry River to "Melvy's Wharf", a private estate home along the river where we will have a typical Aussie style barbeque.
G'DAY FROM SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA Added: 02-26-2007|
Well, I'm finally here....down under! It was a crazy week at the office. Since I flew home from Santiago last week I've been burning the midnight oil at the office. We signed up over 900 people for our one-day cruise over Mother's Day. A big thank you to our outside sales staff that came in to help with all of the calls! I left mid-day on Saturday and flew to Seoul and then onto Syndey. We arrived yesterday morning and transfered to the hotel. Yesterday we had a free day to rest up and then we all met for dinner last night at the hotel. Today we have a city tour and then a seafood dinner at Sydney's famous Waterfront Restaurant.
HELLO FROM SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA! Added: 02-25-2007|
Hello from Seoul. We're on our way to Sydney to begin our Australia and Asia cruise/tour.
HOMEWARD BOUND! Added: 02-17-2007|
I left Santiago at 10 PM last night. Now it is 6 AM and I'm in Miami headed back to Seattle. I'll be home for one week and then I'm off to Sydney, Australia!
HELLO FROM THE AIRPORT IN SANTIAGO, CHILE Added: 02-16-2007|
We started the day at the hotel with a great breakfast. We then loaded our coach and went to La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, for the Changing of the Guard. It was a great ceremony until we received an unexpected downpour of rain! We then reboarded our coach and made our way to Vina del Mar and Valpariaso where we boarded the ms Rotterdam. After meeting with the maitre d' and the guest relations manager, I said "bon voyage" and left the ship. I then made my way back to Santiago for my return flight home.
A GREAT TIME WAS HAD BY ALL! Added: 02-16-2007|
Last night we all had a spectacular evening. We went to Restaurant Adobes de Argomedo for their dinner and show. The music and dancing were continuous....and very good. Upon our arrival we had a chance to try a local cocktail, like a pisco sour. We then had a great dinner with plenty of the local wine! The show was great. We saw dancing and native costumes from every region of Chile including Easter Island. We are all just getting up ready to start a new day in Chile!
A PERFECT DAY IN SANTIAGO Added: 02-15-2007|
I wish you were all here! The temperature today is in the mid to upper 70s with a slight breeze. Does it get any better than that? Last night we had a great dinner at the hotel. Today, after breakfast, we met and had a city tour of Santiago. We then went to one of the local malls for shopping and lunch. Afterwards, we drove to the Concha y Toro Winery. We had a tour of the grounds and the vineyards and then did some tasting! Now we are back at the hotel to get ready for the evening´s program!
HOLA FROM SANTIAGO, CHILE! Added: 02-14-2007|
I've gone right from one tour to the next! Yesterday we continued our mystery tour with a visit to Mary Kay Cosmetics. We toured the museum to learn the "Mary Kay Story". Our guides also gave us a tour of Mary Kay's offices. We even had a great lunch in the employee's dining room! We then went to the airport and got everyone checked-in for their flights home. Two hours after the last group left Dallas, I met a new group that was arriving in Dallas and changing planes to fly to Santiago Chile! An hour after that we were on our way to South America! We arrived this morning in Santiago and checked-in to our hotel, Hotel Galerias. Later this evening we are going to gather for dinner here at the hotel.
HOWDY Y'ALL....ITS ANOTHER DAY IN DALLAS! Added: 02-12-2007|
.Today was another great day in Dallas. First, we all started with a great breakfast here at the Crowne Plaza! Then we loaded our buses and went to visit the Sixth Floor Museum. This museum chronicles the life and assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The museum is in the building that was formally the Texas Book Depository. We then drove to Ft. Worth for a Chinese lunch buffet. Our next stop was at the Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History. Here we saw an IMAX movie called ¡§Hurricane on the Bayou¡¨ which told the story of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. We then had some time to enjoy the museum¡¦s ¡§hands-on¡¨ exhibits. We then went to their planetarium to see a show about the winter nights¡¦ sky. We then returned for a short stop back at the hotel to freshen up for the evening. Our final stop for the day was at the Texas de Brazil Restaurant. We had a tremendous dinner of assorted salads followed by eight varieties of meats that were carved at our tables by Gaucho clad waiters¡ It was a true feast. After returning to the hotel we were treated to a reception by the hotel¡¦s staff. Tomorrow its on with the ¡§mystery¡¨!
THE MYSTERY TOUR CONTINUES! Added: 02-11-2007|
Today we started the day with a Dallas city tour. We had two great guides who took us all around Dallas showing off the highlights of the city. We then had lunch in the historic West End before returning to the hotel for some free time. Later this afternoon we went to South Fork Ranch, the home of the legendary TV series, "Dallas". We had a tour of the mansion and then had a great dinner on the grounds. Now we are back at the hotel waiting to see what tomorrow brings!
GREETINGS FROM DALLAS!!! Added: 02-10-2007|
This morning I left Seattle for my new "mystery tour". I met the first group and checked everyone in on our flight to DALLAS, TEXAS! Upon arrival we checked in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. My assistant, Kristi Adams, flew in a few hours later with a second group. This evening we went to Ft. Worth and to the Historic Stockyards. Our destination was the Cowtown Coliseum where we saw the Stockyards Rodeo. We enjoyed a great Texas Barbeque dinner with all the fixins and then had VIP seats for the rodeo. We're now all back at the hotel ready for the adventure that awaits us tomorrow!
READY TO GO AGAIN! Added: 02-09-2007|
I can't believe that I've been home for a whole week! I came home last Saturday and since then I've practically lived here at the office! Its been a busy week putting all of the finishing touches on our upcoming tours to South America and our Australia/Asia tour. Also there has been some last minute touches needed for our "mystery tour". Tomorrow morning I will be leaving my home at 5:45 AM and making my way to Sea-Tac Airport to take off on another "mystery tour". Check here in the next couple of days to see where I'm off to this time!
ON OUR WAY BACK TO NEW ORLEANS Added: 02-02-2007|
First of all, I must apologize for again waiting a full week to update "Where's Alan". Last Thursday we arrived in Cozumel. I had to go through a special Mexican Immigration check and then I was transfered to the airport. I then flew back to New Orleans. I had a free night in the city and then the next morning I returned to the airport and began transfering members of our new group to the beautiful Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. Flights arrived throughout the day up until midnight. The next day I went to the pier to meet the group that was coming off of the ship. I got them on their buses for the city tour and Greg went with them on the tours and to the airport where he assisted with the check-in. Meanwhile I returned to the hotel and began transfering the new group to the pier. There are 142 people in the new group! When Greg was done at the airport he also returned to the pier. Since then we have been sailing in the sunny Caribbean with our group. We had a big cocktail party on Monday evening and then on Tuesday we again arrived in Grand Cayman. This time I had a chance to go swimming with the stingrays....what a thrill! On Wednesday we were in Costa Maya, Mexico and yesterday we were back in Cozumel. Now we are "at sea" cruising back to New Orleans. We have already noticed a significant change in the weather....The daily high has dropped from 82 degrees to about 60....and tomorrow will even be cooler! Tomorrow we will have three buses to take everyone on a city tour and then to the airport. Then its back to the real world!
HELLO FROM SUNNY COSTA MAYA, MEXICO Added: 01-24-2007|
Hello from sunny Mexico! To those of you who have been checking regularly, I must apologize for not updating "Where's Alan" sooner. Its been so busy here all the way around. After the travel show we had a real busy week at the office. I then left Seattle last Thursday and flew to New Orleans. On Friday morning I began meeting the incoming groups and got everyone transfered to the hotel We spent the night at the Astor Crowne Plaza hotel in the French Quarter. New Orleans is coming back...at least in the French Quarter! On Saturday we boarded the 'Granduer of the Seas'. The Granduer is a very nice ship and we left the port of New Orleans in the evening and sailed south down the Mississippi River. Yesterday we were in Grand Cayman and today we were in Costa Maya. Although the weather was a bit cooler in New Orleans (still way warmer than Seattle!), once we were 24 hours out of New Orleans we have been enjoying nice and hot Caribbean weather. Today I went snorkeling in Costa Maya and saw a zillion fish! Tomorrow morning we will anchor off the coast of Cozumel. I will then leave the ship and leave my group in the capable hands of my colleague, Greg Martin. I will then fly back to New Orlenas to pick up the next group of 142 people who will do the same cruise with me next week!
HELLO FROM COLD SEATTLE Added: 01-13-2007|
Its hard to believe that just a week ago I was in sunny Houston and now I'm in cold and snowy Seattle! Once again, I timed my return to Seattle to coincide with a small snowstorm! Anyway, we have survived it. Although the lights flickered the first day making everyone a little nervous, we didn't have a major power outage. I've been busy at work getting some things ready for the next few tours and also putting together some new tours. On Wednesday we put together a last minute special on a cruise out of New Orleans. We sent out the e-mail on Wednesday at 4:30 PM and 24 hours later we had booked our full allocation of 90 people! The cruise line has since given us more space and we've been filling it up!
Today was our big "Carlson Wagonlit Travel Show" at the Lynnwood Convention Center. We had a great turnout. It was nice to see a lot of familiar faces. Thanks to all of you who braved the cold weather and the icy roads to come to our show.
ON OUR WAY BACK TO GALVESTON Added: 01-05-2007|
What a great cruise this has been. After the first day, the weather has been perfect! I love the Caribbean!! We had three days in a row in port. First a day in Costa Maya, Mexico. Then a day in Cozumel, Mexico. Finally, yesterday we were in Key West, Florida. Key West is an interesting place. It is 150 miles from Miami but only 90 miles from Cuba. It is a small island at the end of the Florida Keys. It has a very laid-back lifestyle and some real interesting shops....not to mention beautiful beaches and great weather! Now we are on our way back to Galveston. When we arrive in Galveston, the whole group is going to visit "Space Center Houston". After our visit there some of the people will go to the airport for their return flights while the others will go to the hotel for our two-night post-cruise package. I hope that 2007 is being good to you so far!
HAPPY NEW YEAR....FROM OFF THE COAST OF CANCUN, MEXICO! Added: 01-01-2007|
We got everyone aboard on Saturday and set sail across the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday was a day at sea and everyone had time to explore the ship and get ready for the big night. We had a lot of rain yesterday but today is sunny with a slight cool breeze...perfect! Last night there were parties all over the ship. For midnight I was in the center atrium of the ship for the big countdown. Today we are having another day at sea and tomorrow morning we'll dock bright and early in Costa Maya, Mexico. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that 2007 is a great year for everyone!
HOWDY....FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS! Added: 12-30-2006|
Yesterday the group arrived in Houston. We went and spent some time at the Galeria Mall. Some went shopping, some had lunch, some watched the ice skaters and some did all of the above! We then checked into the Doubletree Hotel. Last night some of us checked out Derrick's Sports Bar right in the hotel (they have the world's best ribs!). Today I'm going to put this group on their bus to the pier in Galveston and then I'll go over to the airport to pick up another 88 people who will go from the airport directly to the pier in Galveston. In Galveston we'll be boarding Royal Caribbean's 'Splendour of the Seas' and heading for the sunny Caribbean!
GETTING READY TO GO AGAIN! Added: 12-28-2006|
Here I am late at night at the office getting ready to leave town again. I must say, with the lousy weather that we've been having in Seattle, it doesn't break my heart to be heading for the sunny Caribbean. Tomorrow I'll be taking 54 of my 140 total that will be going on my New Year's cruise to the Caribbean. The remainder of the group will be flying in on Saturday. Tomorrow I'll be flying into Houston where we will stay one night before heading to the pier in Galveston on Saturday. The rest of the group will fly in on Saturday and go directly to the ship. I'll log in tomorrow and give you a progress report!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Added: 12-24-2006|
I realized that, once again, its been almost a week since I've updated "Where's Alan". I think I'll have to make that my new year's resolution...to update more often! I will try! Anyway, I flew home from Miami and came back to cold Seattle! Since then I've been in the office getting everything ready for my New Year's cruise that leaves on Friday and Saturday and putting some of the finishing touches on my January tours. Of course, I've also been busy putting together some new tours. Hint: Be sure to see the e-mail this Tuesday. It will be sent out at 6 PM on Tuesday. This week we have an incredible deal on a Caribbean cruise...you won't believe it! Besides, with the crazy weather everywhere, we all need to get out out town this winter!
Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the holiday season. From all of us at Travel With Alan, I would like to thank you for all of your support during 2006 and I would like to wish you and your family a healthy and happy 2007.
BOWLING ON THE HIGH SEAS! Added: 12-18-2006|
I realized that I never wrote about the ship's Christening ceremony. On Saturday we were supposed to have the ceremony on the pier but the afternoon brought rain and the decision was made to move the ceremony inside to the ship's "Stardust Lounge". The ceremony was fantastic. They had the Miami Philharmonic along with a local choir. The colors were presented by the local Coast Guard and the Godmother of the ship was Rosie O'Donnell. The entire ceremony was very high spirited! Last night I had dinner with the regional business development manager for NCL. Later in the evening I went bowling at the only bowling alley at sea in the ship's "Bliss Ultra Lounge"...a very trendy "South Beach" style lounge. Now I am getting ready to leave the ship for my return flight to Seattle.
HELLO FROM ABOARD THE BEAUTIFUL NEW NORWEGIAN PEARL! Added: 12-17-2006|
After my late night arrival and overnight in Ft. Lauderdale I transfered to the Riverside Hotel right on Las Olas Boulevard right in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale. It was a great hotel and is located right in the heart of the "action"! That evening we boarded a water-bus and took a tour through the Intercoastal Waterway past several beautiful multi-million dollar homes and yachts. We ended up at Taverna Opa, a Greek restaurant located right on the water. Here we had a great dinner and lots of "opa"!! Yesterday we transfered to the Port of Miami and boarded the Norwegian Pearl. After dropping off my bags I headed right to a meeting room where we had a four hour meeting. It was a great meeting with the top brass at NCL. It was a great chance to learn about all of NCL's new programs and itineraries. We had a great question and answer session as well. After the meeting I finally had a chance to do some exploring around the ship...after lunch, of course! The ship is truly beautiful and was "purpose built" for "Freestyle Cruising". Last night I had dinner with our local representative from Norwegian Cruise Line, Michael Weldon. After dinner I got to explore a bit more and had time to enjoy some of the entertainment. NCL always has excellent entertainment and that is especially true on this ship. Aside from the great shows and the great music all around the ship, this ship also has a rock climbing wall and the only bowling alley at sea! I've had some more meetings today and I am hoping to have more NCL offerings during 2007...stay tuned!
HELLO FROM FT. LAUDERDALE Added: 12-15-2006|
Since I last updated "Where's Alan", its been very busy. We completed our cruise in Houston. Upon arrival we loaded one bus to go directly to the airport for the early return flights. Noreen went with them and got them all checked in. We then loaded three coaches to take a Houston city tour and then go to the airport for their return flight home. Richard went with them and got all of them checked in. I went with the last coach. We went to "Trader's Village", the largest flea market on the Texas Gulf Coast. We then met our local guide and took a Houston city tour and then checked in at the Windsor Suites Hotel for our two-night post-cruise package. That evening we had a private cocktail reception at the hotel followed by dinner at the Saltgrass Steak House. On Monday we went to Space Center Houston. We had heavy rain that day but it calmed down a bit by the time we arrived at the Space Center. That evening we had another private cocktail party at the hotel before having dinner at the Olive Garden. On Tuesday I flew home with the group. Wednesday was a very busy day in the office....I was there for fourteen hours! Yesterday I flew to Ft. Lauderdale (via Houston, AGAIN!) and checked into my hotel. Today I'll be attending meetings with Norwegian Cruise Lines and tomorrow I'll be going to the Port of Miami to board the brand new Norwegian Pearl. I'll attend the Christining ceremonies and then take a two-day "cruise to nowhere" to check out this new ship. I'll update you about my impressions of the ship in my next entry.
HOLA FROM SUNNY *BUT WINDY) COZUMEL, MEXICO! Added: 12-08-2006|
Last night we sailed from Grand Cayman to Cozumel. It was a great night on the ship. It was our last formal night and they really went all-out with the entertainment on the ship. We also had the Gala Buffet at midnight. I must say that Carnival did a great job on the buffet...the ice sculptures were amazing! This morning we arrived in Cozumel. It is a bit windy out but the sun is shining! Right now I'm in an internet cafe with my cousins, Norene and Richard who are helping me with this big group. Meanwhile, my boss, Rick, is sailing back to Tampa with my other group aboard the Legend of the Seas! Tomorrow my group will be at sea and then on Sunday we'll be back in Galveston.
HELLO FROM SUNNY GRAND CAYMAN Added: 12-07-2006|
We've been having a great cruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. I have a group of 272 with me. My cousins, Norene and Richard, are along to give me a hand. The weather the first day or two wasn't that great...but a lot better than what we all left behind! Now the weather is FANTASTIC. Although we did have a light shower this afternoon the weather is mostly hot and sunny! Yesterday we were in Montego Bay, Jamaica and today we're in Grand Cayman. Tonight we're having our "Travel With Alan" cocktail party...it will be great to have all of us together in one lounge! I'll update you tomorrow from Cozumel, Mexico!
HOWDY FROM HOUSTON! Added: 12-02-2006|
I can't believe that its been a week since I last updated "Where's Alan". This week, like many lately, has flown right by. I got off of the Voyager of the Seas one week ago today. Our only snag of the whole tour was on the last day. Because of all of the Europeans on the cruise, immigration took forever. I took the group to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport for their flights home. The group with the earliest flight just made the flight with only minutes to spare. Fortunately, despite the predictions of all of the long lines on Thanksgiving weekend, the airport was a breeze and everyone made it! I spent an extra day in Ft. Lauderdale and was able to make the last day of a family reunion for my great aunt's family. It was nice to see everyone and spend some time with the family. I flew home late Sunday night...just in time for the big snowstorm in Seattle! I've been busy in the office all week. Yesterday I flew down to Houston, one day before the rest of the group, to get everything ready. Today I'll have 270 people flying into Houston from all over the country for our cruise tomorrow aboard the Carnival Conquest. I must say that, after the weather in Seattle, I'm really looking forward to the sunny Caribbean weather!
OUR LAST NIGHT ABOARD THE VOYAGER OF THE SEAS! Added: 11-24-2006|
Its hard to believe that our crossing is coming to an end! It seemed like six days at sea would be a long time but, as usual, I don't know where the time went! Everyone is having a great time. The entertainment has been fantastic....and the weather has been great also. The last two days in a row the temperature has been in the low 80s! Tomorrow we'll leave the ship and make our way to the airport for our flights home. I am going to stay one night in Ft. Lauderdale for a family reunion. I'll be back in the office on Monday to work on even more new tours!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE ATLANTIC! Added: 11-23-2006|
The days at sea have flown right by. It seemed like we were going to have so much leisure time ahead of us but there has been so much going on around the ship and now we realize that the cruise is going to end in less than two days! The entertainment aboard the ship has been spectacular. Also, everyone is enjoying all of the activities and amenities aboard the ship. Yesterday I played a round of miniature golf with my parents and then we watched the people on the rock climbing wall....we just watched!! Tonight our whole group is going to see "Ice Odyssey"...the professional ice skating sho here aboard the ship. On Saturday our cruise will end. After I check in the group for their return flights home, I will check in at a hotel for the last day of our family reunion! I'll be back in the office on Monday...just in time to prepare Tuesday's e-mail!
SAILING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ATLANTIC! Added: 11-20-2006|
After a day at sea we arrived at one of my favorite islands, Madiera. Again our coaches and guides were waiting for us to take us on a tour of this beautiful island. We went all over the island and made our way through the winding narrow roads. Our tour ended in the town of Monte. There we boarded tobaggans and went down the hill on the city streets with two men guiding our sleds down the city streets. It was really a thrill! Now we are sailing across the Atlantic. Its nice to have the days at sea to enjoy this incredible ship. We've still been very lucky with the weather...today its 75 degrees out! Tomorrow I'll write about all of the activities here on the ship!
SAILING OFF THE NORTH COAST OF AFRICA Added: 11-17-2006|
After a day at sea we arrived in Lisbon at noon. Our group met on the pier and boarded our coach for a great Lisbon city tour. Our guide was fantastic and in three hours we had a great overview of the whole city. After the tour some of our "shoppers" remained in town to help support the local economy! Others of us returned to the ship for the balance of the day onboard. Yesterday was a day at sea. Royal Caribbean does a great job keeping everyone entertained during the sea days and several activities were offered throughout the day. Last night was our first big production show in "La Scala" Theatre. On a big ship like this the shows are BIG with a huge cast of singers and dancers. It is now early morning on the ship and at 7:00 AM we are due to arrive in Funchal, Madiera.
HELLO FROM ABOARD THE INCREDIBLE VOYAGER OF THE SEAS Added: 11-15-2006|
Yesterday we checked out of our hotel and transfered to the Barcelona Waterfront and boarded the Voyager of the Seas. We met up with the additional tour members that flew in yesterday, had a Barcelona city tour, and came to the ship. Now we're all one big happy family! The Voyager is an incredible ship. The first time I came on this ship I expected not to like it at all...but some many people were asking me to do a cruise on a Voyager class ship. I must say that I realized right away that I was wrong. Even though I like smaller ships, I do LOVE the Voyager. Last night they had a huge "Island Fever Parade" in the Grand Promenade....It was hard to imagine that we were on a ship! Today we have a day at sea which is a welcome relief after six days of touring Spain!
ANOTHER ONE OF ALAN´S FAMOUS SEAFOOD DINNERS ON THE BARCELONA WATERFRONT Added: 11-13-2006|
No ¨Travel With Alan¨trip to Barcelona would be complete without a dinner on the Barcelona Waterfront. Tonight we had a great seafood dinner at Marina Munchos. We had a lot of seafood and a LOT of wine! It was a great way to end our three night stay in this great city. Tomorrow its off to the Voyager of the Seas!
HELLO FROM SUNNY BARCELONA Added: 11-13-2006|
Well we are definitely hitting the weather jackpot! We finished off our three nights in Madrid and flew on to Barcelona. Since all of our luggage went by truck we flew right through the airport. We arrived and checked into our new hotel. Yesterday we had a full day tour to Montserrat and today we had a city tour. Tonight its a special seafood dinner on the waterfront!
A BEAUTIFULY SUNNY DAY IN MADRID! Added: 11-09-2006|
The weather forcast was poor but, thankfully (and as usual!) the forcast was wrong. Its about 63 degrees and sunny! Last night we had a beautiful dinner buffet in the hotel. The hotel really outdid themselves and the dinner was fantastic! Today we met our local guide, Concha, and had a great city tour. Our tour ended at a local restaurant where we had a typical Spanish lunch featuring pallella. Now we are having a free late afternoon and evening. As my parents are with me on this tour, I think that we will go out for dinner tonight to a Basque restaurant!
HOLA FROM MADRID, SPAIN! Added: 11-08-2006|
Early Tuesday morning I was picked up at home. We went to pick up my parents and then went to Sea-Tac to check in for our flight to Newark and then on to Madrid. The flights were actually very nice and this morning we arrived in Madrid and transfered to our hotel, Hotel Senator Espana. We had a free afternoon and tonight we had a great Spanish buffet dinner right in the hotel. Tomorrow we´ll begin exploring Madrid!
BACK IN SEATTLE!` Added: 11-02-2006|
Home sweet home....I'm back in the office! I just returned last night from my "mystery tour". If I may say so myself, it was one of my best tours ever!
On Saturday we flew from Seattle to Chicago, non-stop on Alaska Airlines. We all checked in to the Crown Plaza Hotel. Later we had a great dinner in one of the hotel's banquet rooms. Everyone's itinerary only went as far as the next morning so still, at that time, nobody had any idea what to expect! The following morning we had breakfast, at our leisure with a voucher, in the hotel's restaurant. We then loaded our buses and all 108 of us "hit the road"! Actually, there were 110 of us including my assistant, Nancy Pelletier and myself. Many of you have traveled with Nancy before (she's the one with the wacky sunglasses!
We drove for about two hours and then we stopped at McDonalds for a pre-arranged lunch. We then drove an hour further into Indiana and ended up at Amish Acres. Amish Acres is in the middle of Amish country in Indiana. We saw a great production of "Fiddler on the Roof" before we checked-in to our hotel, The Inn at Amish Acres. After time to freshen up we returned to Amish Acres for a huge homemade "Thresher's Dinner" This was a huge family style dinner. All of the food was fantastic and it didn't stop! The next morning we returned to Amish Acres and toured all of their facilities. We saw a film about the history of the Amish people, toured an original homestead, took a wagon ride, toured a schoolhouse, and had time to wander through their many shops. Midday we had lunch in the Restaurant Barn Loft. We then had some free time back at the hotel before we re-boarded our coaches and took a tour to the countryside. We went to the neighboring town of Shipshewana and went to see a couple of the local Amish "cottage industries". We toured a noodle factory and a quilt shop. It was interesting to meet the people and their families. The highlight of the day was when we ended up at an Amish home and had another "Thresher's Dinner". The whole family worked all day to prepare the meal and it was DELICIOUS! We just kept passing the dishes of food! After dinner the "grandfather" of the family came out and did a question and answer session about the Amish. After that the whole family came out and sang for us! It was quite an evening!
Yesterday we left Nappane, Indiana and drove to South Bend...home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. We toured the campus with some student guides and then had our last lunch at the Morris Inn...right on campus. We then drove the final leg back to O'Hare Airport for our non-stop flights back to Seattle.
Everyone had a great time. I am hoping that in the future I will do another tour to this area....just a regular tour next time...the "mystery" is out of the bag!
HELLO FROM NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY IN SOUTH BEND, INDIANA! Added: 10-31-2006|
I have just a quick minute to update "Where's Alan" while I'm waiting for my group to finish their tour of the campus. I haven't had internet access for the last few days....I've been in Indiana Amish country! We've had a great tour...and great food! Tomorrow, when I get back to the office, I'll give you the full run-down on the entire tour!
GREETINGS FROM THE WINDY CITY.....CHICAGO!! Added: 10-28-2006|
Well, here I am in Chicago. Today is the first day of our "mystery tour". Many of you have been wondering where we were going to go this year. Well, this morning I checked in the first group of 54 and my boss, Rick, checked in the 2nd group. We all landed in Chicago and checked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We had a wonderful dinner right here in the hotel. Everyone knows that tomorrow morning we're going to have breakfast here at the hotel and that at 9:30 we're going to check out and board our coaches....destination unknown!!!
BACK IN THE OFFICE Added: 10-22-2006|
I'm sitting here working late tonight and reflecting on the four cruises that I had on the Mercury. I must say that they were all GREAT cruises! Everyone had a great time on all of them....including both the short "Pacific Northwest Cruises" and the last cruise which was a seven day cruise from Seattle to Ensenada with stops in Victoria, Vancouver, Astoria, and San Francisco. There is a certain "style" on a Celebrity ship and the staff on the Mercury was nothing short of outstanding. Also I have to say that the entertainment was great every night. All of the shows were first-rate! I'm looking forward to my next cruise on the Mercury. When I wrote last we had stopped in Ensenada to give everyone some free time. In the meantime we found out that there was still a backup at the border from all of the other buses from the ship and we were doing very well on time so we put our heads together and organized a stop in Tijuana! I was very surprised how nice it was in the downtown area of Tijuana. Everyone enjoyed the stop including the "3 for 1" marguaritas that many of the restaurants offer during the daytime! We then crossed the border, pretty painlessly...we didn't even have to get out of the buses, and made our way to San Diego. Here we split up and the group with the earlier flight went directly to the airport. Alaska Airlines was great and we checked-in the whole group in about 5 minutes! The other group proceeded on a guided tour of San Diego. I met them back at the airport and again checked-in the whole group in about 5 minutes. We then had a nice non-stop flight home back to Seattle. At the airport we also said goodbye to all of our group members who flew in from other cities. Now I'm home for a whole week!! I'm working on putting together some new packages and putting the finishing touches on some of our upcoming tours including my next tour....the Mystery Tour!
HOLA FROM ENSENADA, MEXICO Added: 10-20-2006|
I had to end my last entry suddently. I was in an internet cafe in San Francisco and realized I had less than one minute left on my pre-paid card. I figured I better "save" quickly or lose everything. We had a great day in San Francisco...the weather was warm and sunny with just a slight breeze all day. San Francisco is a great town. I had a great dim sum lunch in Chinatown and then walked all over town. We had a nice day at sea and this morning we left the ship in Ensenada. I figured that since, per my request, we were the last group off of the ship, that rather than wait behind all of the other buses at the border we would give the group some free time in Ensenada...rather than just driving right past the town. Right now we are having a bit of free time before we head up to San Diego for our flights home.
AN INCREDIBLE HOT AND SUNNY DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO! Added: 10-18-2006|
We sailed from Vancouver and headed to Astoria, Oregon. We were told that there was an 80% chance of rain in Astoria but I told the group that it meant there was a 20% chance of sunshine! Well, the 20% came through and we had a beautiful afternoon in Astoria. About a third of the ship actually walked into town along the new Riverwalk. I did some shopping in Astoria, like I usually do...do if my niece and nephew, Karli and Marcus, are reading this, please act surprised! Monday night, as we were sailing away from Astoria, we had our final Travel With Alancocktail party on the Mercury. Great times were had by all!!
A SOGGY DAY IN VANCOUVER Added: 10-15-2006|
I have now been cruising around the Pacific Northwest for two weeks without seeing any rain but today I made up for it! The rain has been coming down in Vancouver and it just keeps coming. That didn't stop me though....I've been walking all over town. I had lunch in Chinatown and now I'm at an internet cafe updating the website. Now its time to go back to my nice warm ship and dry off!
PEA SOUP IN VICTORIA Added: 10-14-2006|
Yesterday turned out to be a great day! I met my parents at the pier and we went to Pike Place Market. After some shopping and looking around we had lunch at the Athenian Cafe in the Market and enjoyed the view! I then went back to the ship and wrote my "welcome aboard" letter and got ready to meet my new group. 35 of my group members from the previous cruise were staying on to do the cruise to Ensenada in addition to the 56 new passengers that arrived yesterday. After three groups of 200 passengers in a row, 91 seems like a piece of cake! We had a nice sailaway from Seattle but into the night the fog rolled in and most of the night the fog horn was being sounded about twice a minute....its a good thing that I'm a sound sleeper! This morning I looked outside and saw nothing! The fog had really rolled in. Fortunately, by around 11 AM the fog had lifted and I decided to make a trek into town! This evening we'll sail at 5 PM and tomorrow we're in Vancouver.
ANOTHER GREAT CRUISE ABOARD THE MERCURY Added: 10-14-2006|
On Monday morning we arrived back in my own beautiful city, Seattle! Again we had a very smooth disembarkation and by 9:45 AM everyone was on their way home, including me. Again, I threw a load into the washer and then the dryer before I headed back into the office. I spend a couple of hours in the office and wrote my “welcome aboard” letter for the new group along with taking care of a lot of loose ends for some of my upcoming tours, including a new offering for my weekly e-mail blast. I returned home to pick up my clean clothes and then returned to Pier 66 to re-board the Mercury. I had another big group….195 passengers…but this time I was all by myself! Actually, since I had already met with the maitre d’ and had everyone confirmed for their exact dining requests, the first day was relatively easy. Still, it was a long day and after I did my letter deliveries to the staterooms, my two sets of desk hours, and my visits to all of the dinner tables on the first and second seating, I decided just to go back to my stateroom and just relax! The following morning I once again woke up in Nanaimo!! I think that everyone there must consider me to be a “local”! This was my fourth visit to Nanaimo in 22 days!! Once again, the weather cooperated and we had a great day in Nanaimo. On Wednesday we spent the early part of the day cruising up to Prince Rupert. In the late morning some heavy fog rolled in and we had to blow the foghorn once or twice a minute. Fortunately, by early afternoon the fog lifted and we had a beautiful afternoon. We arrived in Prince Rupert at 3:00 PM and even though there was a bit of chill in the air, it was a beautiful sunny day! We stayed in Prince Rupert until 10:00 PM although most of the people returned earlier. Yesterday we cruised the Inside Passage most of the day. We had a bit of fog in the early morning but it lifted very early and we had a beautiful day of cruising down the Passage. Everyone was amazed at how spectacular the scenery was and how close we were to shore….on both sides of the ship! Last night we had yet another “Travel With Alan” cocktail party. Once again, the crew on the Mercury went all out for our cocktail party and we got the whole group into the ship’s “Pavilion Nightclub”. Everyone had a great time and again, it was nice to have the whole group together! Last night we had another super show onboard…”Dance Around the World”. After the dinner and show everyone packed their bags and enjoyed their last night on the ship. This morning I woke up early and enjoyed the view coming into Seattle. Its still dark out and the city is all lit up….Seattle is really a great city! Today, after everyone claims all of their bags and are on their way, I’m going to meet my parents and have lunch….probably at the Pike Place Market! Then, this afternoon I will be here to meet yet another group of cruisers!
HELLO FROM MY NEW "HOME AWAY FROM HOME", NANAIMO, B.C. Added: 10-08-2006|
After I left the office on Friday, I went home, got my clothes out of the dryer, packed them in my carry-on bag, and rushed back to the pier. I re-boarded the ship and started right away to deliver “welcome aboard” letters to all of the cabins in my group. I had 204 people in my group from October 2 – 6 but in this group I have 238! I finished just in time for my desk hour. That was followed by the boat drill which was followed by my second desk hour. Afterward we started visiting all of the tables on the first seating as we were sailing away from Seattle. I always forget what a beautiful city Seattle is. Its so nice having the cruise ships leaving right from Seattle! After visiting all of the tables on the second seating, we finally had a chance to sit down and enjoy a great Celebrity dinner! Since then things have been much calmer! Everyone is having a great time. Since I was already aboard the ship, I was able to meet with the maitre d’ and confirm all of the dinner tables in advance….exactly as everyone had requested them! On Saturday we docked in Vancouver at the Canada Place Pier. It was a beautiful day…a bit cooler than the last time but the sun was shining! We had an evening sail-away from Vancouver…another very beautiful city! Today we are in Nanaimo. This is my 3rd visit to Nanaimo in 20 days! Nanaimo is a great little town. The locals are very excited about the cruise ships coming in to visit and they really go “all out” to make it a nice day for all of their visitors. There are volunteers on every corner giving out maps and directions! Tonight everyone will be back onboard for another one of my famous Travel With Alan cocktail parties! It will be great to have all 238 people in one room having a great time. Tomorrow its back to Seattle and we’ll start all over again!
BACK IN THE OFFICE....FOR JUST 90 MINUTES! Added: 10-07-2006|
I just returned from our four day Pacific Northwest cruise aboard the Celebrity Mercury. We had a great cruise and fantastic weather followed us throughout the cruise. Once again, Greg Martin helped me with this group...we had 204 people traveling with us! We sailed out of Seattle on Monday afternoon. It was a beautiful day in Seattle! It was nice to be back on the Mercury. I have done several cruises aboard the Mercury and it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces onboard! On Tuesday morning we woke up in Vancouver. It was a great day in Vancouver and everyone realy enjoyed the day. We were docked at the Canada Place Pier, right in the heart of the city. On Wednesday we were in Victoria. Again, another great day. That evening everyone came to our now famous Travel With Alan cocktail party. On Thursday we were in Nanaimo. Its nice to go into a small port town like Nanaimo where all of the locals are excited about having the cruise ships coming in. There were volunteers on every corner giving directions and assistance. This morning we all woke up back in Seattle. After getting all of the people on their way home, we hopped in a taxi and went home. I threw a load of laundry in the washer and the dryer and then came here to the office. I'll be here just 1 1/2 hours before I go home to get my clothes from the dryer and head back down to Pier 66 for a 3-night Pacific Northwest cruise back aboard the Mercury!
MY NEXT ADVENTURE...THE ONE NIGHT "PARTY CRUISE" Added: 10-01-2006|
After I returned home on Saturday night, I had the rest of the evening to unwind and unpack. Then I started to get ready for my cruise leaving the next day! I went into the office to catch up on some of my paperwork to pick up everything that I needed for the one-day cruise to Vancouver. On Sunday morning I went into the office and met my good friend, Stephen Thacker. He had just driven down from Vancouver, BC and was on his way to Southcenter to meet my group that was then getting on a bus back to Vancouver to board the Norwegian Star. His wife, Joanne and their 2 year old daughter, Georgia were waiting in Vancouver to meet the group and to board the ship for their 11 day cruise to Mexico! We went over all of the paperwork and Stephen went on his way. I then hurried home and packed for my one-night cruise. I went down to the pier and met my friend, Brian Keevy, who had come up from Portland to help me with the one-night cruise. We had our work cut out for us. We had over 300 people including 59 guests who were boarding the ship with us and then staying aboard the mv Westerdam for a 21-night cruise through the Panama Canal. Although that was an unescorted cruise, I was with the group just for the first night as we sailed from Seattle to Vancouver. Brian and I staffed our hospitality desk and delivered letters to all of the staterooms. We then met with the guest relations manager to finalize disembarkation arrangements for the next morning. We also met with the maitre d' to confirm all of the group's dining arrangments. That night we managed to visit all of our tables...even though the visit was very brief! As we were starting to visit all of our first seating tables, my cell phone rang. It was Stephen on the bus going to Vancouver....it seems that the Canadian Customs agents decided to go on strike and the border into Canada was CLOSED! I got continued updates from Stephen and meantime spoke with Norwegian Cruise Line to keep them up to date on the situation. Fortunately, the border was only closed for a couple of hours and the ship wasn't scheduled to sail until 11 PM. So, although the group got there later than we expected, they did not have to delay the ship for us! That night we continued to visit all of the tables on both dinner seatings. When we were all done, Brian and I had an incredible dinner in the Westerdam's Pinnacle Grill. Although our dinner was very late, it was very delicious....worth waiting for! That evening the ship put on one of their big production shows called "Grand Tour". Although I didn't get a chance to see the show, everyone said that it was spectacular! The next day everything worked perfectly. As the people came off of the ship we loaded them onto our buses and shipped them back to Seattle with a rest stop in Mt. Vernon. It was a long 26 hours for us but everyone came home very happy! I will try to do some more of these in the future. After we got everyone on their way, Brian went back to Portland and I went straight into the office. Since then I've been busy working on our upcoming tours and even planning some new ones. Tomorrow I'll go down to Pier 66 to board the Celebrity Mercury. Greg Marting will be helping me again with this tour as we have over 200 people traveling with us! Tomorrow will start a 4 night cruise visiting Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Victoria. I will keep you updated throughout the week here on the website.
BUSY BUSY BUSY AT THE OFFICE! Added: 09-28-2006|
I'm getting behind again on updating "Where's Alan"! Sorry about that....I really don't know where all of the time goes. I realized that I never finished telling about our West Coast cruise aboard the Radiance of the Seas and I haven't written anything about my "One Day Party Cruise" aboard the Westerdam. Anyway, I left off just as we were arriving in San Francisco. I had a great day in San Francisco. It was the most beautiful day there. Even though we had some fog the day before when we were coming down the coast, I woke up to a PERFECT day in San Francisco. The temperature was about 75 degrees all day and there wasn't a cloud or even a hint of fog in the sky. There was just a slight breeze and it was just a comfortable day to walk around the city. We walked through the whole city including Fisherman's Wharf and the Waterfront, Ghirardelli Square, North Beach, and Chinatown. We had a big dim lunch and then finished walking through the town. Afterwards we came back to the ship to man our hospitality desk and visit all of the dinner tables. Afterwards we went back into town for dinner at The Stinking Rose. The Stinking Rose is a world famous restaurant. They are famous for their garlic recipes. Everything, even their special ice cream is made with garlic. We then walked back along the waterfront and to the ship in plenty of time for our 2:00 AM sailaway! We then spent all day Friday at sea and then on Saturday morning we ended up at the Port of Los Angeles. Again, it was a perfect day in LA. Our buses were waiting so after a nice breakfast aboard the ship we boarded our buses. I had hired local guides to give us a nice tour of the local beach communities. Midway through the tour we stopped at the Huntington Beach Pier for some free time. They were having a craft market there that day also so it was a nice stop. Afterward we continued our tour up the coast towards Long Beach. Our return flight was out of the Long Beach Airport. This was a great airport. The bus literally parked at the front door and we checked in the whole group in a matter of minutes! We then boarded our non-stop flight back to Seattle. I got home on Saturday night with enough time to do a load of laundry and get ready for my next adventure!
A NICE DAY AT SEA! Added: 09-22-2006|
We had a nice sail from Victoria to Astoria. The weather started off gray and misty in the morning but soon the skies cleared and we had an incredible day in Astoria. I ran around town, checked my e-mail and had lunch at the local brew/pub! The Radiance of the Seas is a beautiful ship and the entertainment onboard has been outstanding. Yesterday we had a day at sea and last night we had our "Travel With Alan" cocktail party. Everyone showed up and had a great time! Today we'll be in San Francisco all day until 2 AM! The weather is perfect...sunny and in the upper 70s! San Francisco is a great town and I plan to walk all over the city!
HELLO FROM VICTORIA, CANADA Added: 09-18-2006|
Today we are in Victoria, BC. This cruise got off to a bit of a rocky start for me. We were all set to leave on Saturday. I had two buses chartered to take our group from Seattle to Vancouver to catch the Radiance of the Seas. The company that we normally have used was sold out so we had to call around and find an other company. We booked an other company but at 1:00 on Friday afternoon they notified us that they didn't have buses for us and they were cancelling our charter and returning our payment. I had never had anything like this happen to me before. Anyway, all of us got on the phones to look for replacement buses....and there were none to be found anywhere in town. We were even calling companies in Yakima and Corvalis! We finally found our buses and then on Saturday morning one of the drivers called to let us know that he was going to be an hour late. We had already changed the time by an hour and a half to accomodate the new bus company. Anyway, we made it to the ship with time to spare but it made it a true adventure for me! We are now all settled in here on the Radiance of the Seas. I have Greg Martin helping me again with this tour and everyone is having a great time so far! Yesterday we were in Nanaimo and today we're in Victoria. We had a bit of rain yesterday but today has given us beautiful weather. We'll be sailing soon off to Astoria, Oregon.
A WHOLE WEEK AT HOME! Added: 09-10-2006|
It's hard to believe that I've been home for a whole week! I would have updated "Where's Alan" but there has not been a whole lot to tell. I know that you don't want to hear about me doing my laundry! Anyway, its been very busy at the office. This week we sent out an e-mail with 2 new tours and a "rerun" of a tour that we put out a few months ago that we just got more space on. Then, on Friday I sent out a "special" e-mail with my New Year's cruise in the Caribbean. I worked all day in the office yesterday and, on the first day out, we booked over half of our space! Tonight I had dinner with my whole family and tomorrow morning its back to the office! In less than one week I'll be leaving to board the Radiance of the Seas for my West Coast cruise.
HOME SWEET HOME! Added: 09-03-2006|
Yesterday morning we landed in Seattle. It was so convenient being able to just catch a taxi and be home in 15 minutes! Actually, by 11:30 AM I had already been home, hung up my clean clothes and done most of my unpacking, and was at my desk in the office. Looking back on last week, even though it was a lot of work, it was a great experience. We had a great group, many of them traveling for the first time on a "Travel With Alan" tour. We had our own excursions in each of the Alaskan port cities...and they were great...Plus, the bonus was that we had some fantastic weather. Now I'll be home for two weeks to give me some time to plan for more upcoming tours (watch your weekly e-mails!) and to put the finishing touches on the other tours that we already have planned. On September 16th I'll be going up to Vancouver to board the Radiance of the Seas for our 7-night cruise down the West Coast to Los Angeles.
LAST NIGHT ONBOARD Added: 09-02-2006|
This has been such a fantastic cruise to Alaska. I know that I should have upgraded my "Where's Alan" more often during the week but I have been very busy. We had 291 people in our group and between taking care of everything on the ship and taking care of all of the excursions, I have been very busy! I do want to say a special thank-you to my parents, Irwin and Babette. They have been my assistants this week and they have been great! We had a lot of tables to visit each night! The weather was supposed to be terrible this week. Rain was all over the forecast. We were so lucky. It only rained the one day that we were in Ketchikan. The other days were all sunny and clear. We had the most spectacular day that I have ever seen at Hubbard Glacier. During our visit to Juneau I saw a bear by the Mendenhall Glacier that couldn't have been more than 40 feet away from me...that was an "interesting" experience!! Tonight we are just getting ready to sail away from Victoria and make our way back to Seattle. Tomorrow I will sit down and write a more detailed account of our cruise.
ANOTHER WEEK IN THE OFFICE Added: 08-20-2006|
Another week has gone by and I'm still here in the office working away! Its been very busy here. Within in the next two months over 1400 people will be departing on a Travel With Alan tour! My next tour will depart on Saturday when I take 294 people with me on a cruise to Alaska aboard Holland America Line's beautiful mv Oosterdam! Also this week we put the finishing touches on our 2006 Mystery Tour! Watch your e-mail on Tuesday for all of the details.
I'VE BEEN HOME FOR A WEEK! Added: 08-13-2006|
Its hard to believe that I've been home now for over a week. I'm sorry that I haven't updated my "Where's Alan" site since my return but, frankly, when I'm home there's usually not too much exciting news to tell! I flew home on Wednesday and on Thursday I was in the office bright and early. It was a good thing as the phone was ringing off the hook to book our Panama Canal cruise aboard the Sun Princess. Now we're going to have all of the work of coordinating the flight schedules and shipping out all of the documents as they come in. This week we sent out a fantastic deal on a land tour to Costa Rica. Again we had a great response and we're down to just a few spots left. I'm sure we'll have those filled in the next day or two. And, of course, on Tuesday I'll be out with another of my weekly newsletters and with another great offer. At this point I don't even know what it will be but you can be certain that every Monday all of the cruise lines and tour operators are lined up to get me a great deal if I promise to put it in the weekly e-mail! If you're not receiving our weekly e-mails just click on "Join Our Mailing List" on the left hand side and you can start receiving my newsletter every Tuesday! Have a great week!
ON MY WAY HOME Added: 08-02-2006|
Yesterday I had a nice walk around London. London is a fun city just to walk around, watch the people, and take in the city. Last night I saw the musical "Dancing in the Streets". This morning I had a ride to the airport and now I'm waiting to board my flight to Copenhagen and then on to Seattle!
A GRAY DAY IN LONDON Added: 08-01-2006|
Things are going well in London. On Sunday we had a great city tour. Our guide, Victoria was fantastic. We returned to our hotel to find that the weather had cooled a bit and so had our rooms. Although we are staying at a major chain's London hotel, we were all suprised to find out (including me) that the hotel was not air conditioned. Fortunately the temperatures are are a lot lower than they were a week or two ago! Sunday night we had a great "carvery dinner" at the hotel. Yesterday we had a free morning in London. We then met mid-day for our transfer to London's Heathrow Airport for everyone's non-stop flight home. Since I flew in with the Scandinavia group, I have to fly home on SAS so I decided to take a couple of days to check out London! Last night I went to see "Sunday in the Park with George" at the Wyndam Theatre. Today I am exploring the city...possibly doing theatre again tonight. Tomorrow I'll have an early morning transfer to the airport for my flight to Copenhagen and on to Seattle. I would like to say a special hello to two of my regular readers, my niece and nephew, Karli and Marcus!!
TOP OF THE MORNING FROM JOLLY OLD LONDON Added: 07-30-2006|
Yesterday our cruise aboard the Silver Whisper came to an end. We docked in the morning at Dover, England and left the ship. Our guide, Victoria, was waiting for us with our motor coach. We drove from Dover to Central London enjoying Victoria's commentary along the way. We arrived in London and had about one hour of free time in Covent Garden. We then went to the Royal Drury Lane Theatre where we saw "The Producers". It was a great show and we had excellent seats right up front! Last night we had a great dinner in the hotel's restaurant. Today we're off on a city tour with Victoria!
BON JOUR FROM SUNNY ST. MALO, FRANCE! Added: 07-28-2006|
Today is a perfect day! It's qbout 75 degrees outside and there is a cool breeze. St. Malo is incredible! I have never been here before and I must say that I am impressed. This is a combination of a seaside resort and an historic walled city. I am enjoying the morning just wandering through the city. On Wednesday night we sailed from Bordeux. As we were sailing away they had the most incredible barbeque that I have ever seen on a ship. They put on a spread like you wouldn't believe. The band was playing and the drinks were flowing! The food was beyond belief. They had lobster tails on the grill along with just about anything else you could imagine. After dinner, the Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers put on a spectacular show right on deck! All of this while dining with fine china on clothed and perfectly set tables.....unbelievable!! You can be certain that I will be returning to a Silversea cruise soon!
TWO DAYS IN BORDEUX& Added: 07-26-2006|
The weather has still been fantastic here in France! We arrived yesterday here in Bordeux. Fortunately I woke up early and was able to see our spectacular passage up the Giroun River up to Bordeux. All of the buildings and scenery were beautiful! Frankly, I didn't realize that we had to go 70 miles upstream to reach Bordeux. The city is clean and the people are actually friendly! Tonight we are having q "formal barbeque" on deck as we sail back down the river.
ITS A PERFECT DAY IN BILBAO, SPAIN! Added: 07-24-2006|
Yesterday we had a day at sea! There were activities all day long from lectures to concerts to wine tasting! Today we arrived in Bilbao, Spain. I decided that when I win the lottery, this is where I´ll buy my beachfront villa! This is a really beautiul city with a great esplenade along the waterfront. The city is about two miles from the pier but I decided to walk into town. Tomorrow we´ll be in Bordeux, France where we will stay for two days.
ITS A PERFECT DAY IN LISBON! Added: 07-22-2006|
Lisbon is such a great city and the weather here today is nothing less than perfect! I decided not to take a tour today but to just spend the day wandering the city streets (and catching up on my e-mail!). The ship is better by the day. All of us are enjoying all of the luxurious pampering that we are receiving onboard! The suites are all incredible and the food and service are truly beyond compare. Look for me to be doing a lot more with Silversea in the future!
HELLO FROM SUNNY CADIZ, SPAIN Added: 07-21-2006|
We had a great dinner with the whole group last night in La Terezza, the Italian Restaurant on the ship. Today we´re in Cadiz, Spain. Its a beautiful city but a bit dirty today...there has been a garbage strike on for the last 3 days!! The city is beautiful though...its hard to think of a seaside resort with beautiful buildings that are over 200 years old! Tonight we´re going to get the whole group together again for one of my famous ¨Travel With Alan¨cocktail parties!
HOLA!...FROM MALAGA, SPAIN! Added: 07-20-2006|
The Silver Whisper keeps exceeding my expectations at every turn. The staff just bends over backward to make sure that you have everything you could want to insure a great vacation. On Monday night we all met for cocktails in the bar and then went to dinner...with lots of great wine...all included! Needless to say, I slept very well that night! On Tuesday we were in St. Tropez, France. St. Tropez was a lot of fun. The weather was beautiful and the narrow streets were filled with all kinds of interesting shops. I didn´t do a tour but just spent the day walking around the town, soaking up the sun, and watching the people! Tuesday night was our first formal night of the cruise...with another fantastic dinner. Yesterday was a day at sea. There is so much to do including excellent lectures, classes, and shows...or nothing to do, if that´s what you want! Last night there was a big ¨Broadway¨production show put on by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. I was really surprised that such a small ship would put on such a big show! Today we´re in Malaga. Its another perfect day! Tonight we´re getting our whole group together for dinner in La Terreza, the ship´s Italian restaurant.
ANOTHER DAY AT SEA....FINALLY! Added: 07-19-2006|
So much has happened since my last entry. On Sunday we disembarked the mv Rotterdam in Copenhagen. Our buses and guides were waiting for us and took us on a great Copenhagen city tour. Our tour ended at the airport where we got everyone checked in for their return flights home. Most of the group flew on the non-stop SAS flight to Seattle. Meanwhile, I rushed off to catch my flight to Frankfurt and then my connecting flight on to Nice, France. I arrived in Nice five minutes before the group coming in to take the European cruise aboard the Silver Whisper...perfect timing! We collected our luggage and then transfered to our hotel, the Beau Rivage located right in the city center. We then went out for a great French dinner. On Monday we had a tour of Nice, Eze, and Monte Carlo. Our tour ended up at the pier in Monte Carlo where we boarded the 6-star 'Silver Whisper'. This ship is totally unbelievable. There isn't anything that you could want that they wouldn't get for you or do for you. The ship only accomodates 388 passengers and all of the staterooms are suites. Check-in took less than five minutes and was followed by cocktails and a beautiful buffet in the main lounge.
ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DAY! Added: 07-15-2006|
Finally we have a day at sea and it is a spectacular day. You would think that we've been on a Caribbean cruise! I realized that I never wrote about our two days in Russia. We arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday morning. A Russian band was waiting for us on the pier. It was unusual hearing the Star Spangled Banner in Russia! On Tuesday we had our buses waiting along with our guides, Marina and Natasha. They were both excellent guides...some of the best that I have seen anywhere in the world. On Tuesday we toured the city and then went to visit the Hermitage. The Hermitage is the former Winter Palace and the home to what many would say is the world's best art museum. Our guides took us through the exhibit rooms that have some of the world's most well known paintings done by the masters. St. Petersburg is an awesome city. There are spectacular palaces and churches everywhere! Many call St. Petersburg the "Venice of the North" with all of its canals and bridges. On Tuesday evening we met our same guides and went to a Russian Folkloric Show at one of the local hotels. The show was great and exciting. It featured a huge cast of singers and dancers in traditional Cossack regalia. Some of the moves of these Russian dancers were incredible! At intermission we were treated to a glass of Russian champagne! On Wednesday morning we met our guides again for a full day tour. We started off our tour with a ride to Peterhof. Since we made good time we were able to have an extra stop at a beautiful Russian Orthodox Cathedral. We then went on to Peterhof, the Summer Palace of Peter the Great. Our local tour operator had arranged for an "early entrance" for our group so we were able to go in before all of the huge crowds. Our guides took us through all of the rooms and explained all of the history surrounding Peterhof. Peterhof is a "must visit" sight...like they say, "It's good to be Czar!" After touring the palace Marina and Natasha took us for a walk through the palace grounds. The grounds are beautiful and feature a huge assortment of fountains. All of these fountains use only hydraulic pressure and use no pumps or electricity. Peter even had some "trick fountains" installed...apparently he had a sense of humor! After our walk through the grounds we had a traditional Russian lunch at a restaurant on the palace grounds. After lunch we drove to Alexandria to tour the former palace of Nicholas I. We then drove back to St. Petersburg. We were fortunate because the road back to St. Petersburg goes right past the Presidential Palace where the G8 summit was going on. We thought that the road would be closed but for some reason it was open...perhaps all of the leaders were off somewhere else. Anyway, it was a treat to see the Palace with all of the flags flying everywhere for all of the nations represented at the summit. We had a great sail-away from St. Petersburg. It has been light out until after midnight with the sun rising around 4:00 in the morning.
On Thursday we arrived in Helsinki, Finland. After the two long days of touring everyone appreciated the fact that our city tour there was only 3 hours! Still we had a great tour again with two great local guides. After the tour many of us walked back into town to do some shopping or to try some of the local dishes. This leads us back to Stockholm, Sweden where we were yesterday. Again we had two great guides and had a six hour city tour featuring entrances to the Old City Hall where the Nobel Prize awards banquet is held every year. We also toured the Vasa Museum where a 400 year old warship is housed. This ship was recovered from the muddy ocean bottom just outside of Stockholm. We then toured the Royal Palace...which topped off our palace quota! We then had a walking tour through the old city followed by some free time for shopping. Yesterday evening we had a beautiful sail out of Stockholm through the Swedish Archipelago. Everyone was out on deck listening to the music and eating Swedish meatballs! Now finally we have a day at sea!
FIVE DAYS IN A ROW IN PORT Added: 07-13-2006|
We are just arriving into Stockholm, Sweden and it looks like it is going to yet another beautiful day. Yesterday in Helsinki it was about 76 degrees with a slight breeze and it looks like today will be about the same! After Tallinn we had two great days in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tonight I will tell you all about those as well as about our great day yesterday in Helsinki. We have been really busy with all of our tours.....this is the first time that I have done my own tours in all of the ports of call....including Russia. I must say that they have been great and everyone is really enjoying them!
A GREAT DAY IN TALLINN Added: 07-10-2006|
We arrived early this morning in Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn is a beautiful city and the people are very proud of their heritage. We met two fantastic guides and we were off on our tour. We toured the Song Festival Grounds and drove all over town. We then started a walking tour through the old city. Our walking tour ended up at the Olde Hansa Restaurant where we were served a huge feast in a building that dates back to the 14th century. It was really a treat! Tomorrow we will arrive in St. Petersburg, Russia.
FINALLY A DAY AT SEA! Added: 07-09-2006|
Since I wrote the last time we have been very busy. First of all, WE GOT ALL OF OUR LUGGAGE!!! Thank you to those of you who asked! We had a great day in Oslo. After a beautiful sail in through the Oslofjord we landed in Oslo. We met two fantastic guides and gathered the group for an Oslo city tour. We docked right next to the Akershus Fortress, right next to the city. From there we boarded our buses and had a nice tour of the city. We toured the Downtown area and then went to Vigeland Park. This is one of the world's most famous sculpture gardens all designed by Gustav Vigeland. Here our guides explained the meaning of life! We then saw the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, a remnant from the Oslo Winter Olympics. Our final stop was at the Viking Ship Museum. We then had a free afternoon to explore Oslo. That evening we had a beautiful sail out of Oslo narrarated by our port lecturer. The next morning we woke up in Arhus, Denmark. This was my first time in Arhus. Again we had great guides who took us on a nice city tour. We toured the Downtown area and visited the Lutheran cathedral. We then visited Den Gamle By, a recreated village of period houses and businesses. This collection of half-timbered buildings was gathered from all over Denmark. We also visited the Royal Palace, summer home to the Queen of Denmark. Again we had a free afternoon to tour the city and perhaps try a good Danish beer. The weather has been quite warm, well above the averages, so that was a popular option! Yesterday we had an early start in Warnemunde, Germany. Warnemunde is a beautiful seaside resort city in the former East Germany. Yesterday was a very long day but a great one! The weather forcast was not good. In fact, they were predicting thunderstorms. In Warnemunde we boarded our coach for the 2 1/2 hour ride into Berlin. While it rained on our way into the city, by the time we arrived the skies were clear and the weather was perfect. I hired the same guide that I have used in the past and he gave us a great tour. We saw everything including Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the Bombed Out Church and much much more. We also had a great lunch at Dicke Warten which means "The Fat Innkeeper"! We were treated there to a typical German lunch. After lunch we did more touring and had a chance for a bit of shopping. It was an interesting day to be in Berlin with all of the soccer fans from all over the world getting ready for the big final game today. Now we finally have a day at sea...so I have time to update "Where's Alan". I will try to do this more often in the days to come. Tomorrow we'll be in one of my favorite cities on this cruise, Tallinn, Estonia!
A BEAUTIFUL EARLY MORNING IN THE OSLOFJORD! Added: 07-05-2006|
Sunday afternoon I was busy working in the office getting everything ready for this tour and some of our future tours. I received a call from SAS Airlines that our flight was delayed so I got busy calling everyone to let them know that they had an extra hour to get to the airport. Actually, I called my assistant on this group, Greg Martin and gave him half the list so we both got busy. We had a great flight to Copenhagen and even though we were really rushed, we made our connection. The problem is that the luggage did not and still at this time we don't have the luggage! Everyone has been in great spirits though and the ship has been extra accomodating both in helping us to find our luggage and in providing "loaner" formal ware and free laundry service. It's been an adventure but as someone in the group told me yesterday, its a real "icebreaker"...we all have something to talk about! Anyway, we landed in Amsterdam and went out for a great dinner before we checked into our hotel, the Hotel Akura. This is a beautiful hotel and is situated right on one of Amsterdam's canals. On Tuesday morning we had a great breakfast at the hotel before we embarked on our city tour. We toured Amsterdam and Rotterdam. We allowed some extra time at the end of the tour at a shopping mall in Rotterdam to pick up some new clothes and toiletries!! Tuesday evening we sailed from Amsterdam and celebrated the 4th of July. Yesterday was a day at sea. This gave us time to get settled in and learn our way around the ship. Last night was "formal night". I must say that our group gave a new meaning to "formal night". For having no luggage, everyone was very creative! It is now early morning and we are having a beautiful sail through the Oslofjord. In about an hour we will be docked in Oslo where we will spend the full day.
EUROPE HERE WE COME! Added: 07-02-2006|
I'm here at the office doing some last minute projects. Now I'm going home to pack and head off to the airport! I'll be flying with my group of 76 people to Amsterdam where we will spend one night. Then on Tuesday we will board the ms Rotterdam in Rotterdam for our 12 night Scandinavia and Russia cruise! I will try to log in every day to let you know everything that's going on!
STILL HOME Added: 06-25-2006|
I can't believe it....I've been home for 4 1/2 weeks in a row...and I'll still be home another week. I'm sorry that I haven't been updating "Where's Alan" too often but when I'm home there's not too much exciting news to add. Next Sunday I'll be flying to Amsterdam with a big group to do our cruise through Scandinavia and Russia. On this cruise I'm doing my own shore excursions for the group in each of the ports of call. Now, THAT will be interesting! Once I am back "on the road" I will be sure to update this site every day so that you can follow our group through the Baltic Capitols
A BUSY SATURDAY IN THE OFFICE Added: 06-03-2006|
Again its been almost a week since I logged on to tell you what's going on. Well, there hasen't been to much excitement going on. We have been very busy. I was even surprised how many of you were interested in our Panama Canal trip this September. It is nice though going on a cruise that leaves right out of Seattle! I will tell you that you should watch your e-mail on Tuesday night and the "Upcoming Tours" section of the website on Wednesday. I will be adding two of our most requested tours! I'm going to take a day off tomorrow so I'll be back in the office on Monday.
A PEACEFUL SUNDAY! Added: 05-28-2006|
It hard to believe that I've been home for over a week. I'm really sorry that I have been lax in keeping up with "Where's Alan" for the past week. Really, I just haven't had too many exciting things to report! Our cruise ended well. We had a beautiful day cruising down the Inside Passage...the weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular. It is so nice ending a cruise right in Seattle....especially for those of us living in the Seattle area. You get off the ship, pick up your luggage, and go home! How easy is that? For the past week I have been busy working in the office putting together some new tours. Also, I have been helping Kathy, Kristi, and Bill with answering the phones and taking the reservations. In the past couple of weeks we have booked over 400 of you for our 3 and 4 day cruises this fall on the Celebrity Mercury. If you haven't already signed up for one, you should!! We got super incredible pricing on them. Check back often...I'll be better about keeping up with "Where's Alan"!
CRUISING THE INSIDE PASSAGE Added: 05-18-2006|
Although the skies were overcast in the morning, they had cleared up and the sun came out for our arrival into Prince Rupert. Our weather for this cruise has been a “perfect 10”! We had a great afternoon in Prince Rupert. The town really went all out for our arrival. Today we are cruising southward down the inside passage. By tonight we should meet up with our other group aboard the Vision of the Seas and tomorrow morning we’ll both be arriving back in Seattle. I should be back in the office by noon!
SAILING TOWARDS PRINCE RUPERT Added: 05-17-2006|
Yesterday turned out to be one of the most spectacular days that I have ever had in Alaska. We entered Yukatat Bay in the early morning and by about 8:00 AM we were at the face of the Hubbard Glacier. The sun was shining and even though there was a bit of chill in the air, the day was beautiful. The skies were perfectly clear so aside from having a great viewing of the glacier we could see for miles around. The surrounding mountains were all fully snowcapped and magnificent. Of course, everyone enjoyed the day. By afternoon we were sailing southbound heading towards Prince Rupert. Last night was our last formal night on the ship. We had a great show after dinner called “Dance Around the World”. After the show we went to “Le Grand Buffet”. Even though I only looked (really!), the display was one of the best I have ever seen. I am looking forward to coming back on the Mercury in the fall! Today we are having a day at sea until our arrival this afternoon in Prince Rupert.
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY SKAGWAY, ALASKA Added: 05-16-2006|
I am writing to you today from Skagway, Alaska where the weather in unbelievably beautiful. The temperature is in the low 60s and the skies are perfectly clear and sunny. This is the nicest day that I have ever seen in Skagway in the dozens of times that I have visited here. Yesterday we were in Juneau where the weather was great also. We met up yesterday with the Vision of the Seas where I have another group of 106 passengers traveling with my cousins, Norene and Richard. We had a great tour yesterday for our group visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, the Chapel by the Lake, Douglas, and the DIPAC Salmon Hatchery. We rejoined the Vision of the Seas today in Skagway and we had our tour together around Skagway and across White Pass. We even made a stop at the Gold Rush Cemetery! We are now sailing away from Skagway and from this point on we will go our separate ways until our cruises end on Friday in Seattle. We are hoping that this great weather will continue to follow us!
HELLO FROM SUNNY KETCHIKAN Added: 05-13-2006|
We arrived this morning in Ketchikan and we were all surprised to see a beautiful sunny sky! Although it was still a bit cool all of the locals says this is the best day that they've seen so far this year! It is truly remarkable. We had a super tour today here in town. Our bus picked us up this morning and we went to the Salmon Hatchery and Bald Eagle Center and then went to the brand new Potlatch Totem Park. Everyone really enjoyed the tour. Tomorrow we're in Juneau where we'll meet up with our other big group aboard the Vision of the Seas!
CRUISING NORTH TO ALASKA Added: 05-12-2006|
We had a beautiful sail away from San Francisco passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Yesterday was a day at sea. Everyone is really enjoying the Celebrity Mercury. On our sea day yesterday and also today everyone is enjoying all of the on-board activities and entertainment. The food has been outstanding…as it always is with Celebrity. Before we sailed on Wednesday I spoke to my parents. They had just returned from their 19 day cruise to Hawaii. They sailed from Seattle to Hawaii, spent a week sailing around the Hawaiian Islands and then sailing back to Vancouver. They operated all of their own tours in each of the ports and everything went very well. Today they arrived in Vancouver then then boarded their buses back to Seattle. Everyone had a great time! Today is a busy day back in Seattle. My cousins, Richard and Norene are leaving today with 106 people for their cruise to Alaska aboard the Vision of the Seas. Our groups will meet up on Sunday in Juneau. Also today Robert, Julie, and Linda from my office will be leaving with my group of 520 people for their one-day “party cruise” aboard the Dawn Princess. By now they should all be aboard enjoying lunch and getting ready to set sail later this afternoon. Rick is still in the Caribbean with his group aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. In all there are 780 people today on an escorted “Travel With Alan” tour! Busy, busy, busy! Today is an especially busy day for Kristi in my office. Bill is in the Caribbean with Rick assisting on the 2nd leg of our Caribbean cruise and Kathy is flying to New York where she will be attending the inaugural activities for Royal Caribbean’s brand new ship ‘Freedom of the Seas’. Thanks Kristi for holding the fort down!
A BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO Added: 05-10-2006|
We flew down to San Diego on Monday morning. After a long wait we boarded our buses to Ensenada. In Ensenada we completed our check-in for the cruise at a hotel and then reboarded our buses for the pier. The Mercury is a beautiful ship and everyone is having a great time. Yesterday we were at sea all day. We did have some rough seas last night but this morning we arrived in San Francisco. Its been a beautiful day and the sun is shining! Tonight we'll sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and head north to Alaska!
PULLING ANOTHER "ALL NIGHTER" Added: 05-07-2006|
It's 11 PM and I'm still here at the office on Sunday night! I'm just getting everything ready to leave town since I just got back yesterday. Actually, yesterday was easy since the group returned right to Pier 30 in Seattle. In less than 8 hours I will be leaving Seattle and flying to San Diego. When we arrive in San Diego we will board our motorcoaches for our ride to Ensenada where we will board the Celebrity Mercury. I will be sure to keep you posted throughout the week.
I'M BACK! Added: 05-06-2006|
I'm sorry its been almost a full week since I have updated "Where's Alan". I have been having problems with the website but all seems to be okay now.
This past week I had been speaking to my parents every day as they were circling the Hawaiian Islands with their group. They were a little nervous about doing all of their own tours on each of the islands but it sounds like they all went really well. Their group seems to be having a great time. By now they are heading back across the Pacific and by Wednesday they will be back in Vancouver. Unfortunately, I won't have a chance to see them in person as I will be leaving on Monday with my group on the Celebrity Mercury. We will leave on Monday morning and fly down to San Diego. From there we will board our coaches and head to Ensenada, Mexico. There we will begin our 11 night/12 day cruise up the West Coast and on to Alaska. That cruise will end in Seattle on May 19th.
I've been getting great reports from Rick. He has his big group on the Grandeur of the Seas going all around the Caribbean. They are half way through their two week cruise and it sounds like everyone is having a great time!
Monday and Tuesday were long days here in the office. Right after we got out our Tuesday e-mail blast I received a super offer from Carnival for a European cruise in August. It was such a great deal that I wanted to get it out right away. I worked Tuesday night and put together an extra e-mail blast which went out about noon on Wednesday. The response for that one has been great!
Wednesday I got a ride to Southcenter where I met 52 people. We then bused up to Vancouver where we were to board the ms Oosterdam for our 3-day Pacific Northwest cruise. Meanwhile, my assistants, Steve and Joanne were at Pier 30 where they loaded up two busloads for the cruise and Greg who was in Lynnwood, assisted by Kathy, loading up another busload for the cruise. I did mention that we "were to board". I had found out the evening before that the Oosterdam was going to be late coming into the Port of Vancouver due to rough seas coming up the coast. Fortunately it was a beautiful day in Vancouver. Everyone was able to check in all of their luggage, even their carry-ons and enjoy the afternoon in town. Holland America even picked up the tab on a nice lunch in town! That evening we sailed and in the morning we were in Victoria. Again, we had another beautiful day in port. Thursday night we sailed down to Astoria, Oregon. The weather there wasn't nearly as nice but that really didn't stop anyone from exploring the town. By this morning we were back at Pier 30 in Seattle. The disembarkation went really smoothly and by 11:00 AM I was already back in the office! I will do my best to keep the site updated daily while I'm "on the road".
A VERY BUSY SATURDAY Added: 04-29-2006|
Today was one of those days where I walked in the office and immediately had a phone call...and then it never stopped. Oh well, the boss will be happy! Speaking of the boss, Rick left yesterday with 72 people to Tampa. Today they boarded the Grandeur of the Seas for their 14 day Caribbean cruise. I spoke with Rick today and all is well....everyone is having a great time! I came in today to put the finishing touches on our Pacific Northwest cruise that's leaving on Wednesday. We have just over 200 people going. I guess I'll have to come in tomorrow to work on that...with the weather the way it is, I don't mind!
BUSY WORKING AWAY Added: 04-27-2006|
I got scolded by some of you for not updating my "Where's Alan" section of the website lately. Sorry....its been so busy and I just forgot. When I'm home there is not too much exciting things to tell! I did have a great day on Saturday. Saturday afternoon I went down to Pier 30 in Seattle and boarded the ms Volendam. My parents were aboard with 59 travelers getting ready to sail off to Hawaii. I spent a nice afternoon helping my parents get everything set up for the cruise including meeting with the Guest Relations Manager and the Maitre D'. They should have a wonderful cruise. I spoke to Mom and Dad on Sunday and they had a nice day in Astoria, OR. Today I received an e-mail from them and they told me that the group is having a great time. Last night they had a "Travel With Alan" cocktail party and everyone was in good spirits.
A LAZY SUNDAY! Added: 04-16-2006|
Today I finally had a day to be a bit lazy! I slept in a bit, did my laundry, went to visit Mom and Dad (and get a nice lunch!), and kick back. Tomorrow its back to the grind. Also tomorrow I'll be working on Tuesday's e-mail.
I CAN'T BELIEVE I'VE BEEN HOME FOR A FULL WEEK! Added: 04-15-2006|
I just realized that I had not updated my "Where's Alan" page in a full week. At that time I was in the Atlanta Airport waiting for my flight. Actually, when I got on the flight and we were just about ready to leave, they came on the plane and announced that they were looking for one volunteer to give up their seat and take the next flight. Since we were already 1 1/2 hours late, I knew that it couldn't be long before the next flight...and it was only an hour. Since I was just traveling by myself, I took the offer and got a $200 travel voucher plus they flew me home in first class! That was fun!! Since I've been home we've been very busy. We now have over 400 people going on our one night cruise on the Dawn Princess. The phone has been ringing off the hook! I'm also busy putting some brand new tours together so look for your weekly newsletter every Tuesday evening!
AT THE AIRPORT IN ATLANTA Added: 04-08-2006|
I'm here at the airport ready to come home. Last night we had an amazing dinner at the new Atlanta Aquarium. I know that Seattle has a very nice aquarium but I have to say that of all of the aquariums that I have seen all over the world, the Atlanta Aquarium is by far the best! They closed the aquarium for our group and we had an incredible southern dinner there and had the whole evening to enjoy the aquarium. Today we visited the Carter Presidential Library and the Martin Luther King Center. That was followed by a spectacular luncheon held in a hangar in the airport. They parked a Delta Boeing 767 for us to play with along with the airport's latest fire fighting equipment. They also had the team from the bomb squad on hand to show us their latest equipment and to let us play with their robots! Now I'm at the airport and ready to fly home!
HELLO Y'ALL FROM ATLANTA! Added: 04-07-2006|
My conference has been great here in Atlanta. They are keeping us running day and night but we're getting to do some real cool stuff! Yesterday we toured the Puppetry Arts Center...it was fascinating. We also toured the Museum of Patriotism....fantastic also. Today we had lunch in the 755 Club at Turner Field. That was followed by a trade fair where I got to meet suppliers from all over the state. The trip has been very worthwhile....look for a tour somewhere down the road to Atlanta and Savannah!
OFF TO ATLANTA Added: 04-05-2006|
Sunday was a great day. Our whole "team" met at 8:30 AM (after moving the clocks one hour forward!) at Husky Stadium. The stadium was packed with walkers and volunteers. In all, about 70 people walked with "Team Schiller". Even though it was raining on my way to the stadium, by the time I arrived the skies had cleared and we had great weather for a great walk. I would like to say a personal thank-you to Shirley and Bert Strand and Bob and Laurie Flemer who join the team. Also, I would like to thank everyone who made a pledge for the walk. Team Schiller raised over $18,000! Otherwise, its still real busy here. Tomorrow we'll be mailing out the documents for all 180 of you who are joining us on the three day Pacific Northwest cruise next month. The phones have been ringing...it seems like we have filled up EVERY ship going to Alaska this summer! In a few hours I will be driving to the airport and flying to Atlanta to attend the Georgia State Travel Conference. Its a three day conference and its packed with activities. I'll be back on Saturday night but I'll still be on the e-mail every day.
HELLO Y'ALL FROM ATLANTA Added: 04-05-2006|
Last night was a very short night! I worked until the wee hours, went home and slept for 1 1/2 hours, then got up, showered, got dressed, packed, and I was at the airport by 6:00 AM for my 7:00 AM flight to Atlanta. I'm all checked in now at my hotel and ready to explore Atlanta and learn all about Georgia. The office is buzzing with the phones going crazy for our one day cruise next month on the Dawn Princess...even though we just sent out the e-mail a few hours ago! I'll be back in the office on Sunday to help return calls.
BACK IN SEATTLE Added: 04-01-2006|
Our flight from Phoenix was delayed so I missed most of the "Onstage Alaska" show but I did get there on time to give my presentation on our upcoming cruises and cruise/tours that we have planned for this summer in Alaska. We have added several new departures which I will be e-mailing to you shortly. We've been very busy in the office taking new bookings and getting out the documents for all of our upcoming tours. Tonight I had dinner at my parents' house to celebrate my brother David's 10 year anniversary at his job. Tomorrow morning I'll be up bright and early, especially with the time change, to walk in the Seattle MS Walk....We're hoping for good weather!
LAST DAY IN SUNNY PHOENIX Added: 03-30-2006|
It was a great ending to the game yesterday. After I picked up the doughnuts I went back to the stadium and watched the M's come back and score 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game. (There are no extra innings in Cactus League games). On top of all that, I got a baseball. I didn't exactly catch it...but its mine, soon to be my nephew's! Last night we went to the Broadway Palms Dinner Theatre and saw a greag show, Funny Girl. It was an outstanding production and the dinner was great as well! I just returned from the airport having checked in the first group and now I'm back at the hotel ready for the second group. I'll be flying home and going directly to our Onstage Alaska presentation tonight.
ANOTHER GREAT DAY IN PHOENIX Added: 03-29-2006|
We've been having a great time here in Phoenix! Today the weather is overcast and a bit windy but still very pleasant! On Monday we had a great city tour during the afternoon. In the evening we went to Surprise, Arizona and had a Chinese buffet dinner. We then went down the street and had super seats for a great game. We saw the M's beat the Texas Rangers 10 to 9....it was a great game! Yesterday we had a tour to Sedona. The weather was a bit overcast which really brought out the colors in the rocks. Sedona is beautiful....I always enjoy going there. Last night after leaving Sedona we went to the Mlazin M Ranth. There we had a cowboy dinner and saw an excellent show. Right now everyone is at the game in Peoria. I'm across the street at Kinkos catching up on my e-mail. I'll be leaving here in a few minuts to pick up some Krispy Kream doughnuts for the gang....they're preparing my 10 dozen doughnuts to go as we speak!
A NICE DAY IN PHOENIX Added: 03-27-2006|
Yesterday was a busy day. We met at the airport and flew down to Phoenix. Upon arrival we transfered to our hotel, the Phoenix Inn Suites. After I got the group checked in, I went right back to the airport to pick up the people on the second flight. In all we have 109 people on the tour! Last night we had a super dinner at one of the premier restaurants in Phoenix, Sam's Cafe, located in the Biltmore Fashion Plaza. Today we are having a free morning. After having the hotel's very nice breakfast, everyone has gone their own way. Some are sitting by the pool or swimming, some are taking a walk, and many are shopping at the Biltmore! The weather is overcast but very pleasant. This afternoon we have a city tour with our local guides and this evening we're going to cheer on the Mariners at one of their "away" games in Surprise, Arizona
LAST NIGHT AT THE OFFICE Added: 03-25-2006|
Its Saturday night and I'm still working away here at the office. Soon I will head home and start packing so that I'm all ready in the morning to head to Sea-Tac Airport to join our big group going to Phoneix for our "Spring Training" tour. We have been very busy here in the office. The response for our new tours has been overwhelming. Also this week we were able to add additional space to our Hawaii cruise and to our Scandinavia and Russia cruise. Just a reminder....if you call and one of our tours is full, ALWAYS get on the waiting list...it doesn't cost you anything and there is no obligation...it just means that if there is an opening or if we are given additional space, we will call you and see if you want to go! Tomorrow we will fly down to Phoenix, check in at our hotel, and head out tomorrow evening for a great dinner at one of Phoenix's most famous restaurants, Sam's Cafe. I will try to update you about the tour every day.
WHAT A BUSY WEEK Added: 03-23-2006|
Last Friday we sent out an extra e-mail newsletter telling everyone about our cruise to Alaska on August 26th. We're not allowed to advertise it on the internet but if you didn't receive the e-mail just click on "contact us" and we'll send it to you. So far we've booked over 250 people! We're busy now sending out all of the confirmations and sending out the documents for our upcoming tours to Mexico and Hawaii along with the documents for our "Heritage of America" tour. On Sunday I will be leaving with 109 of you to Phoenix for our "Mariners Spring Training" tour.
WE GOT IT! Added: 03-17-2006|
It has been another super busy day here at the office. Yesterday I mentioned that I was working on a super deal.....we got it! We're not allowed to show the full deal here on the website since it is open to the public but we are in the process of sending everyone an extra e-mail. If you didn't get it, call us or send us an e-mail and we'll send it right out to you. I will update you tomorrow. Meanwhile, we're putting all of the finishing touches on our Spring Training tour that will leave a week from Sunday.
BUSY BUSY BUSY Added: 03-16-2006|
I'm still here at home. This has been a busy week processing all of the bookings for our two river cruises to Eastern Europe and the Castles along the Rhine. This week I've had meetings with the local sales managers from Princess, Uniworld, Viking River Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Carnival. Please check our "Upcoming Trips" section of the website tomorrow....we may have one of my best deals EVER!
RECOVERING FROM A BUSY WEEK! Added: 03-12-2006|
I just realized that its been a full week since I updated "Where's Alan". Shame on me....I'll try to do better. Anyway, I'm still home. Today was a great day. I just returned from Beneroya Hall in Seattle where I saw my multi-talented assistant, Kristi Adams performing with her choral group. They put on a great show with the Cascade Symphony. Kristi is definitely a woman of many talnets! It's been a very busy week. On Monday I received a special offer from Uniworld River Cruises for an Eastern European river cruise to Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, and Romania. There were 54 spots left on the ship. We sent out a special e-mail on Monday night and by Wednesday morning we had filled up the ship. We've all been busy processing all of the paperwork on that tour while working on all of our other tours at the same time. This week we got out all of the itineraries and documents for our upcoming "Spring Training" tour to Phoenix. We're taking 109 people leaving on March 26th. Aside from seeing the Mariners in two of their Cactus League games we'll do a bit of sightseeing in Phoenix and Sedona. Today was a great day.
HOME SWEET HOME! Added: 03-05-2006|
I'm back in Seattle now! Tonight I got to have dinner with my parents while watching the Academy Awards! Friday night was a great night in Laughlin. Everyone enjoyed the riverboat cruise on the Colorado River during the day. Then on Friday night the Flamingo had their famous seafood buffet...which was part of our package! Then we went over to the Riverside Resort to see Roy Clark. Roy's show was better than ever....even better than his shows in Branson. He had his whole band "Roy's Toys" and the whole audience went wild! Yesterday we bussed back to the Las Vegas Airport and flew home. Tomorrow its back to the office and back to planning some more tours!
HELLO FROM SUNNY (BUT WINDY) LAUGHLIN, NEVADA Added: 03-03-2006|
Yesterday we left Las Vegas and came down to Laughlin. Our favorite Las Vegas driver, Arnie Valdez was behind the wheel of coach #1 along with Johnny Lucious on coach #2. We stopped along the way for a tour at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden. We checked in at the Flamingo Laughlin and then had some free time. Last night we saw a great show at the Flamingo, "A Really Big Shew". We had seen this show with my Grand Canyon group in the fall and this time the show was completely different. The show features Jerry Hoban who impersonates Ed Sullivan. "Ed Sullivan" then introduces the different variety acts that make up the show. Last night each of the performers gave a special welcome to the "Travel With Alan Group"! Today we are having some free time along with a cruise on the Colorado River. Tonight we're all going to see Roy Clark at the Riverside Resort.
HELLO FROM LAS VEGAS! Added: 03-02-2006|
A lot has happened since I last updated "Where's Alan". I came home on Saturday and visited with my family on Sunday. I got to see my nephew Marcus play in his basketball league. Its fun to watch a bunch of six year old kids who are really into the game! I worked all day in the office on Monday until after midnight. Tuesday morning I got up early and did my laundry and then drove to the airport and helped to check in my groups coming to Las Vegas. We had two flights coming down...one at 12:15 and the other leaving Seattle at 1:15. I was going to fly down on the 12:15 flight so that I could be in Las Vegas to meet both groups. Well, the 12:15 flight was delayed and delayed again and was finally confirmed for 1:45 PM. I quickly switched to the 1:15 flight and flew down with that group. Our Las Vegas coach driver, Arnie, had his wife go to the airport to meet the other group. We had to do a little bit of quick switching around the schedules but it all worked well! Tuesday evening we went to the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino and saw their show, American Superstars. We also had dinner there and went up to the observation tower. Yesterday was a free day to explore Las Vegas. Since we are staying at the Flamingo, we are right in the heart of the action. Last night we went to the Gold Coast and had their great dinner buffet. We then saw one of the most popular shows that I have ever taken a group to see in Las Vegas....Forever Plaid. Everyone just loved it! Today its off to Laughlin.
HOMEWARD BOUND Added: 02-25-2006|
We had a nice but bumpy flight from Hong Kong to Seoul. We have a quick connection here in Seoul and then its our final leg of the journey, our non-stop flight to Seattle. Its been a great trip....Save President's Day week next year....I'm going to do this one again!
OUR LAST NIGHT IN HONG KONG Added: 02-24-2006|
Today was a great day! We had a free morning for everyone to do a little exploring and SHOPPING! This afternoon we visited the new Hong Kong Disneyland.....It was great! The park features many of the features of the California Disneyland. There is Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and Fantasyland. We went on all of the rides and saw some great shows including a 3-D movie called Mickey's Philharmagic and also a Lion King show. I got our local guide, Matthew, to go on Space Mountain with me! The day ended with a fantastic fireworks display behind Snow White's Castle. The park is super clean and very nice. The food there is great also....I had a dim sum lunch...in Disneyland! On our way back to the hotel we dropped off some of the people at the Night Market for even more shopping! Tomorrow its back to Seattle.
READY TO FLY HOME! Added: 02-24-2006|
We're all checked in here at the Hong Kong Airport. Actually, with the time change we'll arrive in Seattle 1 1/2 hours before we even left! I'll be back in the office on Monday morning.
BACK IN HONG KONG Added: 02-23-2006|
Today we finished off our city tour in Guangzhou. We visited the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. Our guide, Annie, gave us a nice explanation of the hall and we then had some free time to look around. We then had a stop in the center of town and some of us went for a Starbucks break! We then had our last lunch in China before we headed for the train station where we boarded our train back to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong we checked back in at the Grand Stamford Intercontinental Hotel. After we got settled in, those of us who had ordered clothing from the tailor went back in for another fitting. We'll get our finished clothes back tomorrow. Now everyone is having a free evening in Hong Kong and getting ready for our visit to the new Disneyland Hong Kong tomorrow.
GETTING READY TO HEAD BACK TO HONG KONG Added: 02-22-2006|
Its our last morning here in Guangzhou. Yesterday we had a city tour. We started the day with a walk through the public market. We then visited the Guangzhou Museum and the 5 Rams Statue. After a fantastic banquet lunch (10 courses, of course) we continued our tour with a visit to a Chinese teahouse. Our grand finale was a visit to a local kindergarten. The kids were all so cute...and happy to meet us! Last night we had a river cruise on the Pearl River. The local government has spent a fortune fixing up the city, especially along the riverfront. We had a buffet dinner and also a Chinese dance show. Today we have a little more touring in Guangzhou before we board our train back to Hong Kong.
AT THE WHITE SWAN HOTEL IN GUANGZHOU, CHINA Added: 02-21-2006|
I started Monday morning with a visit to the tailor. About half of the group came along and we had all of our measurements done. By the time we return from China back to Hong Kong, all of our clothes should be ready for our final fittings. I'm having a new suit and a couple of shirts made! Monday we started our program with a dim sum lunch. We then continued with a Hong Kong Island tour. We did it all....we took the Peak Tram up Victoria Peak, we had a sampan ride in Aberdeen Harbor, we went to Stanley Market, and much much more! Last night was a free night in Hong Kong. Those of us that ordered things from the tailor went back to the tailor for our first fitting...already! Today we took the express train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. Upon arrival in Guangzhou our local guide, Annie, was waiting for us! Annie is a fantastic guide and its a pleasure working with her again. We first went out for a 10 course Chinese lunch, we then toured the Chen Family Temple which is now also a local museum. We then came to the White Swan Hotel, an incredible hotel, and we checked in. After some free time we went to one of my favorite local restaurants, The Lotus Restaurant, for another 10 course banquet. Tomorrow its a full day in Guangzhou!
FINALLY IN HONG KONG! Added: 02-19-2006|
We made it to Hong Kong! Everyone, including me, is a bit tired. We checked in at the 5-star Grand Stamford Intercontinental Hotel. Our Hong Kong guide, Mathew, was waiting for us at the airport and got us quickly to the hotel. Tomorrow we start our touring of this great city.
HELLO FROM SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA Added: 02-19-2006|
We're just making a quick stop here to change planes....Now its off to Hong Kong!!
BACK AT SEA-TAC AIRPORT....AGAIN!! Added: 02-18-2006|
I'm beginning to think that this place is my second home. It seems like I know everyone here...even the TSA agents recognize me! I'm getting ready to fly to Seoul and then onto Hong Kong. I'll tell you all about it when I get there!
BACK IN THE OFFICE....BUT JUST FOR A MINUTE! Added: 02-17-2006|
I flew back to Seattle on Tuesday night. I hit the ground running...starting in the office on Wednesday morning. Midday on Wednesday I went to a special luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel to learn about the World Cruise being done next year by Seabourne Cruises. I came back to the office and worked late. On Thursday it all caught up with me. I slept in and tried to catch up on my sleep. Today I am working in the office and getting the last minute preparations ready for my tour that leaves to Hong Kong TOMORROW! This is a "last minute" group that I put together while I was in Australia! I'll keep you posted....
HELLO FROM THE AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND AIRPORT Added: 02-14-2006|
It is now 10:00 PM in Auckland. I flew earlier today with my group from Cairns, Australia to Auckland. We are just about to board our flight to Los Angeles....we'll actually get there around noon on the same day! Tomorrow I'll be back in the office planning more tours!
MY LAST NIGHT "DOWN UNDER" Added: 02-13-2006|
Its so hard to believe that this 29 day tour is coming to an end....its been great. Look for a repeat of this cruise and tour next year!
Yesterday, we left the Skytrain at Tjapukai, the Aboriginal Cultural Center. After a great lunch we toured all of the exhibits and attractions. We then returned to the hotel for a free evening. This morning we had an early start for our cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. For many this was a highlight of the tour. The weather really cooperated and it wasn't nearly as hot as we had expected. The scenery there was spectacular. We spend the whole afternoon enjoying a great lunch and swimming, snorkeling, and for some, scuba diving at the reef. Our package even included a tour of the reef in a semi-submersable boat....the sights were amazing, colorful and clear. We saw all kinds of coral, all kinds of fish, turtles, and some clam shells up to six feet wide! Tonight we are winding down and getting ready for our flight home tomorrow.
G'DAY FROM TROPICAL CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA! Added: 02-12-2006|
From Brisbane we flew to Cairns. Upon arrival we met our driver/guide, Roland, and proceeded on our city tour. We then checked in at the Holiday Inn on the Esplanade. Last night we had the seafood buffet at the hotel. Today we did an all day tour. We left in the morning on our coach for a short drive to the Cairns railroad station. There we boarded the historic Kuranda Train. This is a 1 3/4 hour ride on historic railcars along the coast and up into the mountains. We past some great scenery including some great waterfalls. Roland met us in Kuranda and took us into the village for an hour of free time to shop and look around. We then boarded the Skyrail for a ride atop the canopy of the rain forest. This cable car ride was absolutely spectacular. Midway through the ride it started to rain but the scenery was still beautiful!
HELLO FROM BRISBANE Added: 02-10-2006|
Everyone is still talking about our day at Melvy's Wharf. Our hosts, Paul and Wendy, are always very gracious and sure put on the spread for us! On Thursday half of the group flew home and the remaining 47 people continued on for our optional extension to Brisbane and Cairns. We flew on Virgin Blue from Sydney to Brisbane. Our buses were waiting for us and took us on a city tour. We then checked into the brand new Seville Suites Hotel. This hotel has only been open for a few weeks and it is BEAUTIFUL!. The hotel is located in the Southbank area of the city....one of the trendiest districts in the city. Last night we went for a Brazillian dinner with a great Brazillian show following. It was a huge hit. Today we visited the Australia Zoo, home of Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter". It was a great day and we saw most of the shows although it did get quite hot at the end of the day. Tonight we have a big Turkish dinner planned.
LAST NIGHT IN SYDNEY Added: 02-08-2006|
We had a great tour in Canberra including a guided tour of the War Memorial Museum and the New Parliment Building. We then returned to Sydney where we checked in at the Carlton Crest Hotel....a super hotel with a great location! We changed around our itinerary so that we would be free on Monday morning to watch the Seattle Seahawks play in the Super Bowl! The game was broadcast live but with the time difference we watched the game at 10 AM on Monday! The hotel set up chairs for us in the bar and had the game on their big flat screen. They provided appitizers and everyone had a good time...but it would have been a lot better with a different game result!! Oh well, I'm pleased that we made it this far! Monday afternoon we had a tour of Sydney and went out to Bondi Beach. It was a beautiful evening at the beach and even at 6 PM the beach was crowded. Some members of our group got their feet wet and had a walk on the beach! Monday evening we had dinner atop the Syndey Tower with great views of the whole city. Yesterday we had a full day tour to the Blue Mountains. We had several st stops and really had a chance to enjoy the entire region. Our day ended at The Edge Theatre where we saw a Maxivision movie about the Blue Mountains and had a great dinner as well. Today was a day that many regarded as a highlight of the whole tour. We left the hotel midday and when to Kangaroo Point. There we boarded a boat and went up the Hawksbury River to Melvy's Wharf....a huge favorite attraction of some of my past groups. At Melvy's we had a great "steak on the barbie" dinner. We also had some great entertainment and had tours of the house and grounds. Everything there was homemade and it was just a great day...and the weather was perfect as well!
HELLO FROM AUSTRALIA'S NATIONAL CAPITAL Added: 02-04-2006|
This morning I am writing to you from Canberra, Australia. We sailed into Syndey Harbour yesterday past the Syndey Opera House. In fact, we docked right across from the Opera House. After we left the ship we boarded buses and made our way through some small towns to Canberra. Upon arrival we took the tour to the top of the Telstra Tower to have a view of the entire city. Last night was a fantastic night. We went to Gold Creek Sheep Station. We had a great demonstration and learned a lot about the sheep business. We then had a huge "steak on the barbie" dinner with all the trimmings including some great Aussie beer and wine! Today we're off for a city tour and then its back to Syndey.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY! Added: 02-03-2006|
After we left Dunedin we sailed for a full day in Fjordlands National Park. Our naturalist gave commentary the whole day while we all enjoyed the spectacular scenery. We then sailed on to Burnie, Tasmania. As this is a new port for the cruise ships, the locals were very excited to see us and put on quite a show. My group did a full day tour visiting some of the small nearby towns. We had lunch at a country inn called Hawley House where we had a spectacular lunch. We also visited a chocolate factory and a cheese factory and had some free time in town. After another day at sea we landed yesterday in Melbourne. Melbourne is a great city. We had a half day city tour there with time for shopping at the Queen Victoria Market. Now we're on our last night of the cruise sailing towards Sydney!
SAILING ALONG THE COAST OF TASMANIA Added: 01-31-2006|
A lot has happened since we left Picton. We arrived in Christchurch and boarded our special "Travel With Alan" coaches for a city tour. We then visited "Homebush" a private farm and historic home. After enjoying a fantastic morning tea one of the ranch hands sheared a sheep for us and then gave us a great demonstration of his sheep dog rounding up all of the sheep. We then had a tour of the grounds including their pioneer museum. We then went up into the high country and had a photo stop at a view point overlooking the Otira Gorge. We then entered Arthur's Pass, in the heart of the National Park. There we boarded the TranzAlpine Railroad for a 2 1/2 hour scenic rail journey through the gorges and mountain passes. We ended up at the train station in Lyttelton, right next to our ship. The next morning we woke up in Dunedin. This was another fantastic day. We left the ship to find our "Travel With Alan" coaches lined up and waiting for us. We had a great ride along the Otago Peninsula. Our first stop was Taiaroa Head and the Royal Albatross Centre. Here we saw a film about these magnificent birds and then wentd to the viewing area. We were able to see two of these giant birds sitting on their chicks. Our guides also pointed out some of the other birds that congregate at Taiaroa Head. We then went to the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Conservation Project. Here we boarded mini-buses and went down to the waterfront area. We walked along trails and saw one of the young chicks right off of the trail. We then went into some camouflaged hides where we were able to view several of the birds including two maturing chicks swimming in a pond. We were then off to Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens where we had an incredible homemade luncheon. After lunch several members of the group took a stroll through the gardens. Then it was off to Olveston, a stately turn of the century mansion where we broke up into small groups for a guided tour. Our last stop was in Downtown. Since Dunmedin is a University Town we had a chance to wander the streets and look at the interesting shops and cafes....some of us even stopped in at Starbucks! Then it was back to the ship to relax after two very busy days!
A BEAUTIFUL, SUNNY DAY IN PICTON Added: 01-26-2006|
This morning started off a bit cold and windy. By the time we docked in Picton at midday, the weather had turned sunny and clear! Our tour today left the pier and went to one of the large wineries in the area. We had a full tour of the winery and, of course, wine tasting! We then went to the nearby town of Bledheim where we had a bit of free time for shopping. We then went to "A Taste of Marlbourgh" where we could taste some of the local products from the area including more wine, schnaaps, olive oils, ice cream, and a lot more! We returned to the ship this evening just in time for sailing. Tomorrow we have a big day planned in Christchurch including a ride on the Tranz-Alpine Railway.
AN EVENING IN WELLINGTON, , NEW ZEALAND Added: 01-25-2006|
I left off telling you about the Agrodome in Rotarua. After the show we all went outside to see a sheepdog demonstration. Its amazing to see how those dogs are able to round up an entire herd of sheep. As we left the Agrodomo we were met by guides from Tamaki Tours. They are a local tour operator established to show off their Maori culture and traditions. We went to their grounds where we experienced a great show and a traditional "hangi" feast. We then went to Te Paui to experience more Maori culture and to see all of the geyser activity there. Yesterday we had a day at sea. A feature of the day was sailing past White Island, an active volcano. Today we arrived in the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. We had a great tour including Te Papa, the national museum, the city's cable car, and the botanical gardens. After a visit to "Old St. Paul's" we returned to the ship for lunch and the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Tomrrow we'll arrive in the port of Picton.
HELLO FROM BEAUTIFUL (BUT SMELLY) ROTARUA! Added: 01-21-2006|
Yesterday we had a great visit to one of the top tourism attractions in New Zealand, Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and Antarctic Adventure. We had a great visit there and even got to see them feeding the penguins. We then returned to the Auckland Waterfront where we boarded the ms Statendam. The ship is truly beautiful having just undergone all of the "Signature of Excellence" upgrades. Early this morning we were altready at our first port of call, Tarunga, New Zealand. Today we have a private shore excursion for our group. We have come into the town of Rotarua, known for its Maori culture and its sulpher hot springs (that's where the smelly part comes in!) Right now we are at another one of New Zealand's top attractions, the Agrodome. The group is watching the sheep show while I am typing away and the driver and guide's lounge! Tonight I'll fill you in on the rest of the day.
A PERFECT DAY IN AUCKLAND Added: 01-20-2006|
I left Seattle on Tuesday afternoon and flew to San Francisco on United Airlines. Meanwhile, another group flew from Seattle to San Francisco on Alaska Airlines. We all met up in San Francisco and boarded a brand new Air New Zealand Boeing 777 and flew non-stop to Auckland. Meanwhile another group flew from Seattle and from all over the United States to Los Angeles. My parents, Irwin and Babette, were with this group. In Los Angeles everyone met up and flew together on an Air New Zealand 747-400 to Auckland. Upon arrival each group was transfered to the Heritage Hotel Towers right in the center of Auckland. Actually, it was Thursday morning when we all arrived and checked into the hotel. Thursday evening we all gathered for a great "welcome dinner" at the hotel. Today, after a special breakfast buffet that was set up just for our group, we had an Auckland city tour. We had some free time this afternoon and everyone went in a different direction. This evening we boarded our coaches and when to the Waterfront where we boarded a big catamaran and had a dinner cruise on the Auckland Harbor...the weather could not have been better!
GREETINGS FROM AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND Added: 01-19-2006|
I know, I know....its been a long time since I updated you on my travels. It has just been so, so busy that I seem to keep putting this on the bottom of the "to do list". I promise that I'll do better...maybe that will be one of my new year's resolutions.
The rest of the Caribbean cruise went great. After the cruise we had some time at the Space Center Houston before we flew home, back to Seattle. Since I returned home I was working day and night in the office getting ready for this New Zealand and Australia tour and also getting ready for our Carlson Wagonlit/Travel With Alan cruise show. Our cruise show was held last Saturday, January 14th. We had a crowd of over 900 people.....it was great to see many of you there! After the show I put together even some more new tours including our bargain Pacific Northwest cruise aboard the Holland America Oosterdam from May 3 - 6. Keep watching the website...I'll try to update "Where's Alan" almost ever day. Also, if you're not receiving my e-mail every Tuesday, be sure to sign up by clicking on "Join Our Mailing List".
I hope that 2006 is getting off to a great start for you....see you soon!
ENJOYING THE SUNNY WEATHER IN COZUMEL, MEXICO Added: 12-27-2005|
Since I wrote last time I flew with my group from Seattle to Houston. In Houston we connected with the rest of the group coming from other cities. We checked in at the Embassy Suites Hotel and spent the night there. On Friday we transfered to Galveston and boarded the Rhapsody of the Seas. We then spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at sea. The ship had all kinds of events and activites including Christmas caroling, a special Christmas show, and an egg-nog social with Santa handing out presents for the children. Everyone had a great time. On the eve of Christmas day we had a big Hanukah celebration too! Yesterday we spent the day in Costa Maya, Mexico....boy has that area grown since I was there last! Especially with many of the cruise ships bypassing Cozumel because of the hurricane damage, Costa Maya is becoming a busy place. The weather was great and I´m even getting a bit of a tan! Today we´re in Cozumel. We just got here so tomorrow I´ll tell you all about it!
A LONG DAY IN THE OFFICE Added: 12-22-2005|
Its now 4:30 AM and I've been in the office all day! Lots to do to get ready for my Christmas and New Years cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Today has been a busy day getting everything ready to go and also handling all of the calls from yesterday's e-mail blast. If you're thinking about coming with me on the Mariner's Spring Training tour on March 26th don't delay....its going FAST! Today I've also been putting some finishing touches on next month's New Zealand and Australia tour. For those of you on that tour, you should be receiving your cruise documents in the next few days. In a few hours I'll be heading south to Houston....hopefully its a lot warmer there! Then on Friday I'll be heading down to Galveston and boarding the Rhapsody of the Seas.
SORRY ITS BEEN SO LONG SINCE MY LAST UPDATE Added: 12-19-2005|
Its been a busy week, to say the least! Since I left the Norwegian Sun last Sunday I dispatched four buses on city tours and to the airport. This was done with the help of my cousins, Norene, Richard, and Dr. Lisa! I then rejoined the group that was staying on for two extra nights in Houston. We had a great time in Houston. We stayed two nights at the Embassy Suites hotel. In addition to a Houston city tour and shopping at the famous Galeria Mall, we had a full day tour to Space Center Houston, including the "behind the scenes" NASA tour and to the Forbidden Gardens, a complete scale replica of Beijing's Forbidden City. Of course, we had some great meals and a couple of good "happy hours" at the Embassy Suites. I flew home on Tuesday evening and since then I've been in the office quite a bit working on our upcoming tours and even putting together some new ones. During the past few days I've also made some time to visit with family and friends as I will be leaving town again on Thursday. This past Friday we had our big Carlson Wagonlit Christmas party. We had over 90 people in attendance....good times were had by all! I'm working late tonight getting everything ready for tomorrow evening's "e-mail blast".
TWO DAYS AT SEA Added: 12-11-2005|
Since we left Roatan we've had two days at sea cruising towards Houston. Today we've been cruising across the Gulf of Mexico and tonight we're cruising up the channel right into Houston. Its been two days of calm seas! The entertainment onboard has been fantastic. In the morning we have five buses waiting for us. Some of the group will be going directly to the airport and flying home. Most of the group will have a Houston city tour before they fly to the airport. Still there are 45 people who will be going on a city tour and then to the Galeria Mall and then checking in at the Embassy Suites Hotel for our two night Houston post-cruise package.
CHECKING IN IN ROATAN, HONDURAS Added: 12-08-2005|
Its a great day in Roatan! This morning the sun came out and its been a perfect day all day until about an hour ago when clouds moved in a soaked us with a bit of rain. Actually the raindrops on a hot day like today felt good! Now the rain has stopped but the clouds are still here. Still, all in all, its been a great day. Tonight we´re going to see one of my favorite cruise ship entertainers, Jane L. Powell.
HELLO FROM EVEN SUNNIER BELIZE! Added: 12-07-2005|
What a perfect day. I woke up this morning as the ship was just arriving at the harbor of Belize City, Belize. After having a nice breakfast aboard the ship I met my cousins, Norene, Richard, and Lisa who are helping me with this big group. We went outside and hired a cab to take us on a city tour. We then went to a private beach where we spent a few hours swimming and soaking up the rays! Tonight is a big night on the ship including a big production show, Que Noche.
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY COZUMEL Added: 12-06-2005|
I enjoyed a nice evening in Houston and had a chance to do my laundry! On Saturday afternoon my groups started arriving into Houston. We had a nice evening and a late dinner. Then on Sunday we started transfering everyone from the hotel to the pier. Fortunately I have my cousins, Norene, Richard, and Lisa here helping me....with this large of a group I need all of the help that I can get! Finally by mid-afternoon on Sunday my entire group was onboard the beautiful Norwegian Sun. It has been fun coming back on the Sun and seeing a lot of my old friends. By now everyone is settled in on the ship and having a great time. This morning we arrived at our first port of call, Cozumel, Mexico. Its a beautiful day but it is sad to see all of the destruction that Hurricane Wilma did here. On the other hand it is nice to see how quickly they are redeveloping the area...Cozumel is definitely open for business!
HELLO FROM HOUSTON! Added: 12-02-2005|
Malaga was great. We had an all day tour to the Alhambra with great local guides. Even though we had a bit of a problem with our entrance tickets, we still had a great day....including a great Spanish lunch with wine!! We then had a day at sea before we landed in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. I got to spend the day with my parents. We went shopping in the morning and then we hired a taxi to take us around the island to the north beaches and the volcano. After Tenerife we had six days at sea crossing the Atlantic. Celebrity did a great job with providing lots of events, activities, and entertaiment. For many the highlight was the series of lectures by experts in fields ranging from cooking to astronomy to cruise ship history. We landed late today in Ft. Lauderdale but we were able to get most of the people onto flights today....a few got a complimentary one night extension on their vacation staying the night in a hotel and then flying home tomorrow. I flew with part of the group to Houston. After I got them on their connecting flights I checked myself into a hotel waiting for my 258 group members that will be flying in tomorrow for our Caribbean cruise.
HELLO FROM ABOARD THE CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM! Added: 11-22-2005|
I was just reminded by my pal Betty that I haven't updated my "Where's Alan" in a few days! On Wednesday we flew to Barcelona. When we arrived on Thursday I met my parents and the rest of the group who had flown in an extra day ahead of the group. We had a great evening at the Avenida Palace Hotel that we had pre-arranged. On Friday we were supposed to have a Barcelona city tour and then come to the ship but the ship had been delayed two days in drydock so we had our city tour and then checked into our new hotel, the AC Barcelona, that Celebrity had arranged. On Saturday I had added an extra tour to Montserat, just outside of Barcelona....everyone really enjoyed that. On Saturday night we went out for my famous "Barcelona Seafood Dinner" on the Barcelona waterfront. This dinner is always great....they just keep bringing the food and they keep pouring the wine! The dinner lasted 3 1/2 hours! Celebrity had arranged for us to check in for the cruise right in our hotel on Saturday so on Sunday when we went to the pier we just went right aboard the ship! Yesterday we anchored in Villefrance. Our group did a tour of Monaco, Monte Carlo, and Eze. The tour was a big hit...including our lunch at St. Nicholas Restaurant. Today we are finally having a day at sea....everyone was very ready for this! Tomorrow we'll be in Malaga, Spain
GETTING READY TO GO AGAIN! Added: 11-15-2005|
Today is my last full day here in the office. Its been a crazy day but the team and I have gotten a lot done. We've been busy getting everything ready for tomorrow and also working on some new tours. Today we were able to get more space for our Christmas and New Years cruise. This is a super cruise and we got a really good deal. We also got a "senior special" on this cruise where we have free upgrades if at least one person in the stateroom is age 55 or over. I've also posted two new cruises including a "Circle Hawaii" cruise and an "Ultimate Alaska" cruise. Click on "Upcoming Trips" for all of the details. Tomorrow I'll be in the office for a few hours before heading to the airport for my flight to Barcelona. We'll be flying SAS over the pole to Copenhagen and then onto Barcelona. I'll be sure to find an internet cafe in Barcelona and update you on the tour!
HOME AGAIN! Added: 11-12-2005|
I'm back in Seattle. I must say that it was a shock to get off of the plane in Seattle to cold and rainy weather after coming from the beautiful weather in Laughlin. Today I've been back in the office putting the finishing touches on my upcoming tours and even starting to plan some new ones. This Tuesday we're going to have an incredible deal on our Tuesday e-mail blast. Watch your inbox on Tuesday night!
LAST NIGHT IN LAUGHLIN Added: 11-11-2005|
Our show last night "A Really Big Shew" was fantastic. This is a variety show featuring an Ed Sullivan impersonator as the emcee. All of the performers gave "Travel With Alan" a big plug! The George Burns impersonator said "Travel With Alan....sounds like a great concept...but personally I'd rather travel with Betty or Debbie or Janet! Today we had a free day to enjoy the PERFECT weather in Laughlin. Everyone had a voucher to go at their leisure on a riverboat cruise on the Colorado River aboard the Flamingo Celebration leaving right from our hotel. Tonight we went to the Riverside Hotel to see "Vikki Lawrence and Mama...a Two Woman Show". The show was a huge hit with the group...Vikki was great! Tomorrow we all fly home.
HELLO FROM SUNNY LAUGHLIN, NEVADA Added: 11-09-2005|
Its a beautiful day in Laughlin. We left on Monday with 106 group members and flew to Las Vegas. We then transfered immediately to the Hacienda Casino Resort on the shores of Lake Mead. Yesterday was a very long day. We drove to the Grand Canyon. We first stopped at the IMAX theatre located just outside of the park entrance. Here we saw a spectacular movie about the Grand Canyon on a screen that is seven stories tall. We then drove into the park and picked up our park guides. The views of the canyon yesterday were awesome! We then came back to the Hacienda for dinner and time for a little casino fun! Today we drove from Lake Mead to Oatman, Arizona. Oatman is always fun...we wondered the streets and fed the burros. We then came back to Laughlin where we checked in at the Flamingo Laughlin. Tonight we're going to see "A Really Big Shew"
PARKING COUPON ADDED Added: 11-07-2005|
If you are going to the airport and plan on parking your car, just click on "Travel Tips" to the left and you can print your own "Travel With Alan" coupon for Shuttle Park 2. The coupon will come complete with driving directions. This is where I usually park my car. The service is great, the lot is secure, and the price is right!!
NORWEGIAN JEWEL Added: 11-07-2005|
I promised that I would tell you about the Norwegian Jewel. I know that many of you have been on the older NCL ships since they started "Freestyle". Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Freestyle means that instead of having a regular table to go to for dinner every night, you can go when you want, where you want, and with whom you want. The newer NCL ships were "purpose built" for Freestyle. The Jewel was great that way. There was music and entertainment all over the ship. For dinner that were 10 restaurants to choose from. Still, Freestyle is not for everyone. Some people prefer the traditional type of dining and others prefer Freestyle. Personally, I like them both....there are advantages and disadvantages both ways. The next time you book a cruise talk to me or anyone here in the group department and we can explain the differences and help you choose the right cruise for you. One thing I will tell you about the Norwegian Jewel is the entertainment was OUTSTANDING! Their "Cirque Bijou" show was the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Actually, the week before on the Norwegian Star I saw their "Cirque Pacifique" show which was a close second. Truly these are both shows that you could go to Las Vegas and pay $100 a ticket to see...and feel you got your money's worth. Of course, on the cruise there is no extra charge! In a few hours I will leave for the airport and fly to Las Vegas. I won't stay in Las Vegas at all though...we leave right away and head to the Hoover Dam. We will then go on to the Grand Canyon and Laughlin. I'll keep you posted!
HOME SWEET HOME....BUT JUST ENOUGH TIME TO DO LAUNDRY! Added: 11-04-2005|
On Tuesday morning we sailed past the statue of Liberty and into the Port of New York. That morning was a challenge. I paid the longshoremen big $$$ in advance to take care of our groups luggage and to bring it down to where our buses were. I thought that this way it would be much easier for our group members, not having to claim their own luggage in the terminal building and drag it all down to street level. Well, I think I gave them too much because when we all got down to the street level the bags were not laid out on the curb the way they were supposed to be. Instead, they were still in the steel cages in the warehouse. There was a huge riot going on and arguing between the longshormen who drive the forklifts and the other longshoremen with the hand carts. They were arguing over who got to move the bags and who got the money. In the meantime, nothing was happening. Looking back on it, this was true comedy in action but at the time it was very frustrating for a tour director...and people ask why I'm getting grey hair! We finally got all of the buses loaded up and proceeded to have a great Manhattan tour....Everyone loved all three of our guides. Our tour ended up at Macy's...the world's largest department store. There everyone had a voucher for lunch that they could enjoy at their leisure. We then reboarded our buses and made our way to Newark Airport for our flights home. After Kathy and I got all of the groups checked in I found a payphone and called Kristi at the office to dictate the letter for my weekly Tuesday e-mail. The last three days I've been busy here in the office. We've been putting together some new tours and putting the finishing touches on my tour to the Grand Canyon and Laughlin on Monday and my European and Trans-Atlantic cruise coming up on the 16th....its just been non-stop. Tomorrow I will write about the Norwegian Jewel.
TWO MORE GREAT SHORE EXCURSIONS Added: 10-30-2005|
On Wednesday we came into the port of Sydney, Nova Scotia. Once again we had a great tour with unexpected great weather. Our excursion took us to the nearby town of Beddeck. Along the way we past some beautiful coastline and some beautiful fall colors. In Beddeck we visited the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.....Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the hydrofoil?? Yesterday we had a day at sea. The show aboard the ship last night, Cirque Bijou, was one of the best shows I have ever seen....anywhere! Last night the weather got a bit rough and I expected terrible weather today. Thankfully, I was totally wrong! We woke up this morning to sunny and clear skies in the port of Saint John, New Brunswick. Although the air was a bit brisk in the morning, by afternoon it warmed up as well! Once again we had three buses waiting for us at the pier to take us on a city tour. Today, after touring the city, we went out to the beach town of St. Martin. Here we had a light lunch including their famous seafood chowder. We came back to Saint John for some last minute shopping before we returned to the ship for our last leg of the cruise back to New York.
CRUISING UP THE ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY Added: 10-27-2005|
The last few days have been very busy. We left Bar Harbor and sailed up to Halifax, Nova Scotia. While the waters were a bit choppy that night and the morning weather didn't look too friendly, by the time our tour got going the skies seemed to clear up and we had a beautiful day. We toured all of Halifax and learned their unique history. We then made our way to the fishing village of Peggy's Cove. The scenery out there is spectacular. Even though we weren't expecting to see much in the way of "fall colors" we were fortunate that the leaves turned late this year so we got to enjoy all of the red, orange, and golden leaves! Out at Peggy's Cove we had a big lobster lunch. We all put on our bibs and went at it! The next day we had a day at sea to enjoy this spectacular ship. We had a big cocktail party that night for the whole group. Its neat to see all 158 people coming together in one room! Good times were had by all!!! Yesterday we were in Quebec City. Quebec is one of my favorite cities in the world. It's like a bit of Europe right here in North America. We had 3 buses lined up to take our group on a tour of Quebec including a great lunch. We didn't sail until 10 PM so after the tour some of the people stayed in "Old Town" to do a little exploring on their own. Today is another day at sea. The scenery is great here in the St. Lawrence. Tomorrow its Sydney, Nova Scotia!
HELLO FROM CHILLY BAR HARBOR Added: 10-23-2005|
On Thursday I flew from Seattle to Newark. Because of the size of the group we had to divide the Seattle passengers onto three flights. I flew in on the first flight and Kathy flew in on the second flight. I then went to the airport later to meet the third flight. In the meantime we had another group fly in from Portland in addition to the 18 people that flew in from different cities all over the country. On Friday we had a nice breakfast at the hotel before we transfered to the pier to board the brand new Norwegian Jewel. We had a real nice "sail-away" sailing right past the Statue of Liberty. Yesterday we landed midday in Boston. We had three buses ready to take our group on a tour of Boston and Cambridge. We had some sprinkles but nothing that would even slow us down! Last night we set sail and we landed this morning in Bar Harbor, Maine. This morning it was pouring rain. We had our three buses all lined up again and by the time we were at our first stop on the tour the rain had all but stopped. Its not raining at all any more but it still is a bit chilly outside....I even bought myself some mittens! Tonight we'll cross the border and tomorrow we'll be in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS Added: 10-19-2005|
I'm burning the midnight oil tonight getting ready for our tour that leaves in the morning to Canada and New England. Since one of my assistants, Kathy Kontney, will also be coming on the tour there are a lot of loose ends to tie up before we both can leave town. Rick and Nancy are still cruising down the coast with their big group. They will come home the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I will fly non-stop on Continental from Seattle to Newark. Kathy will be flying with another group on Alaska Airlines non-stop to Newark. Later on tomorrow yet another group will fly non-stop on Continental. Meanwhile, a big group from Portland will be flying in and in between individuals from all over the country will be flying into the Newark Airport to join our group. We'll have one night in Newark before we board our buses and head to the Port of New York to board the brand new Norwegian Jewel for our 11 night cruise through Canada and New England. The next two days will be really busy but I'm sure I'll have time to duck into the Internet Cafe aboard the Norwegian Jewel to update you on our progress!
HOMEWARD BOUND! Added: 10-15-2005|
Today we're enjoying a full day at sea! We've been in port every day for the last 4 days so its nice to have a day to relax and enjoy this beautiful ship. This cruise has gone so well that I just made plans to do this cruise again on March 1st....watch your mailbox and your "inbox"! This has been a super busy month for "Travel With Alan" As I write this update we have 3 groups on tours. We have a group that is just completing a cruise through the Panama Canal on the Norwegian Dream, I have a big group with me here aboard the Norwegian Star in Mexico and my boss, Rick has a big group aboard the Celebrity Mercury doing an 8 day cruise from Seattle to Ensenada. All together there are 458 people on one of our tours today! I'm going to fly home with my group tomorrow and stay home for 3 days. Then its off to New York and a cruise to Canada and New England aboard the new Norwegian Jewel!
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY CABO SAN LUCAS Added: 10-14-2005|
I still love this ship....and this itinerary! We had a full night in Acapulco.....lots of fun listening to some great music at a bar right on the beach! We then sailed from Acapulco at 12:30 AM and by 7:00 AM we were already in Zihuatenejo. We had time to explore there and also Zihuatenejo's twin city, Ixtapa. Yesterday we had a full day in Puerto Vallarta. Today we have a full day in Cabo San Lucas. The sun is hot....it feels really good! Tomorrow we'll have a day at sea and then we'll fly home on Sunday.
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY ACAPULCO! Added: 10-11-2005|
I am writing to you today from an Internet Cafe in Acapulco! I love the Norwegian Star and I love this itinerary! I´m sure I´ll be doing it again soon so watch your mailbox and your inbox! The ship is beautiful...so many choices...10 restaurants for dinner! The shows have been great and the crew is super friendly. We´re going to be here in Acapulco until 12:30 AM so I know that many in the group are looking forward to a little Acapulco nightlife! The ship is also bringing a local Folkloric Ballet to do a show onboard the ship tonight. That will be followed by a big Mexican deck party!
ABOARD THE SPECTACULAR NORWEGIAN STAR (AGAIN)! Added: 10-09-2005|
Yesterday I flew with the group from Seattle to Los Angeles. We were able to get the Seattle group all on one flight so we took over the plane! We arrived in Los Angeles and transfered to the pier. The check-in took longer than it should have because they had three big ships all in the port at the same time. Once we boarded though everything was great. This is a fantastic ship....so many choices...and never crowded. We are now sailing towards the Mexican sun! Tomorrow we'll have one more day at sea and then on Tuesday we'll arrive for a full day and evening in Acapulco!
HOW TIME FLIES! Added: 10-07-2005|
Its so hard to believe that I came home one week ago today...the time just flew by. We've been so busy here at the office just putting all of the finishing touches on our current tours. During the month of October over 750 will be traveling on a "Travel With Alan" tour! We've also been putting together a bunch of new tours so keep checking the website! This week we sent out our weekly e-mail with a new tour offering to the Grand Canyon and Laughlin. The tour sold out in one day so we added an additional block of seats and sold those out by yesterday. We will havd 108 people on that tour. If you are not receiving our weekly e-mail, I would urge you to register on the website...and tell your friends to do the same! We have added some additional seats on our Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun from December 3 - 11. This is probably our best "deal" of the year. The pricing starts at only $599 per person plus taxes and fees. This price includes round-trip air from Seattle to Houston, one night pre-cruise stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel, a 7 night cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun, a Houston city tour, all transfers, and a $100 per stateroom shipboard credit! This is unbelievable! Over 200 people are joining our group already...come join us! Tomorrow morning I will fly to Los Angeles where I will board the Norwegian Sun for an 8 night/9 day cruise to Mexico. I will keep you posted on my travels.
BACK IN SEATTLE! Added: 10-02-2005|
On Friday we had a free morning. We then loaded up our buses and headed back to the airport in Las Vegas. On the way back I told everyone about the new tour to the Grand Canyon and Laughlin that I had put together while we were down there....already 12 of them have signed up for the new tour! Our Tuesday e-mail will come out one day early this week so watch for it tomorrow for all of the details! It has been nice having the weekend here in Seattle. Tonight I went to my brother and sister-in-laws house to celebrate my mother's birthday! Tomorrow its Monday again so I'll be back in the office getting ready for the next few tours.
HELLO FROM SUNNY LAUGHLIN, NEVADA! Added: 09-29-2005|
I haven't been able to update "Where's Alan" for the past few days because our ship lost its internet connection and the internet cafe here in Laughlin doesn't allow graphics to be displayed so I was unable to get into the website. Anyway, since I wrote last in Astoria we had two days at sea going to Los Angeles. We had a great cruise. The seas were calm and the weather was good. On Tuesday we landed in Los Angeles. We then said goodbye to all of the group members who were going on for the next 18 days through the Panama Canal and to the group members who were just flying home from Los Angeles. We then boarded our buses to Laughlin. We had a nice ride with movies on the way. We arrived in Laughlin at about 3:30 PM and checked into our rooms at the Flamingo Hilton. Yesterday we had a tour to Lake Havasu. It was a nice day at the lake but very windy....I guess that's common! On our way to Lake Havasu we stopped in Oatman, Arizona where we were "held up" by "Outlaw Willie" and his gang. That was a lot of fun and excitement! Last night, after returning to our hotel we saw "A Really Big Shew" a great variety show featuring an Ed Sullivan impersonator. Tonight we have front row seats to see The Bellamy Brothers at the Riverside Hotel.
HELLO FROM JUST OFF OF THE OREGON COAST ABOARD THE NORWEGIAN DREAM Added: 09-24-2005|
I've been a real busy guy since I last updated "Where's Alan". We left Inverness and made our way to Glasgow. We had a beautiful ride with several stops along the way. We rode alongside Loch Ness but Nessie was bashful and didn't show herself! We also had a visit to the Loch Ness Monster Visitor Center. We arrived in the early evening in Glasgow and checked in to the beautiful Millennium Hotel right on the Town Square. That evening we had a great dinner in the hotel. The next morning I left the group in the hands of our Scottish driver/guide and flew back to Seattle. I arrived in Seattle on Wednesday evening. I went home and fell asleep. I then woke up and went into the office at 2:00 AM for about 4 hours. I then went home, did laundry, and packed for the next tour. By 9:30 AM I was at our North Seattle bus pick-up point to catch our transfer bus to Vancouver. My mother checked in all of the passengers at our Southcenter pick-up point and Rob from my office checked in all of the Lynnwood passengers. Thursday afternoon we all boarded the Norwegian Dream and we set sail at 5:00 PM. Yesterday we came to our first port of call, Seattle!! Actually, it was a great day and everyone had a good time. The weather was perfect. I met my parents and we had lunch at Pike Place Market. For a lot of the people in my group it was nice being able to be a tourist in Seattle and to visit the Pike Place Market, just up the street from Pier 66. We left Seattle and cruised up Puget Sound and down the Washington Coast. Today we landed in Astoria, Oregon. Again we had perfect weather. The town of Astoria really goes all out for cruise ships. They ran their buses and trollys to take everyone all over town. It was a very nice day. Now we are sailing down the Oregon Coast. We'll have 2 days at sea before we reach Los Angeles.
HELLO FROM SPECTACULAR INVERNESS, SCOTLAND Added: 09-20-2005|
I am writing to you today from yet another landromat in Inverness. It looks like its going to be a beautiful day! Its been very busy for the past few days. Our itinerary is jam packed with all kinds of good stuff! From the time we arrived in Scotland on Friday, we have been busy seeing EVERYTHING! After touring the Edinburgh Castle we visited the Palace of Holyrood...the Queen's summer residence. We had a great welcome dinner after checking into the hotel. On Saturday we visited the Scottish Borders. We had a great guide for our tour of Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott. After visiting Jedburgh Abbey, I treated the group to a special Scottish lunch, haggis!. We left Edinburgh on Sunday and traveled north to visit Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mother. It is considered to be the most haunted castle in Scotland. After lunch we visited the Blair Atholl Distillery and learned how good single malt scotch whiskey is made...of course, we had samples! We then visited the Culloden Moor Battlefield where we saw an audio visual presentation and learned all about "Bonnie" Prince Charlie. We then went on to Inverness and checked in to our hotel and had a great dinner. Yesterday we toured the Isle of Skye. It rained the whole way to the Isle but once we got there the skies cleared up and we had a great tour with a super guide. The scenery was truly spectacular. With all of the rain yesterday morning, the waterfalls were roaring! Last night, after dinner, a bunch of us went to a local pub to enjoy a traditional Scotish music session! Today we are leaving Inverness and makeing our way towards Glasgow. Of course we have several stops along the way including a visit to Loch Ness. Hopefully "Nessie" will show herself for us....I'll let you know!
HELLO FROM THE ISLE OF SKYE Added: 09-19-2005|
I need to make this a quick entry. Right now I am at a rest stop with my group on the Isle of Skye. Its been a real busy itinerary but everyone is having a lot of fun. Right now I'm at an internet station in a laundromat updating the website. I'll try to get to a computer later and give you all of the details!
ON THE ROAD AGAIN...IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND Added: 09-16-2005|
My time at home was very short. I left yesterday for Edinburgh where we arrived this morning. After dropping our luggage off at the hotel the group is now touring Edinburgh Castle...Meanwhile, I ran into the library to update the website. I'll keep you posted!
BACK IN THE OFFICE Added: 09-13-2005|
We flew back to Seattle on the 8th. Our flight actually arrived early! I came into the office the same day to start working on the finishing touches on all of our upcoming tours. Kristi, Kathy, and Bill are all working hard to get all of the documents out to everyone. Of course, everyone in the office is pitching in! I'm working on a couple of new tours so those should be out in a couple of weeks so watch your mailbox and your inbox!
A GREAT DAY IN RENO! Added: 09-07-2005|
Everyone has really been enjoying their few days in Reno. Yesterday we did an all day tour to Lake Tahoe and Carson City. We had a super driver/guide who gave us all of the Nevada facts and figures. We did a beautiful drive over Mount Rose and up to the North Shore. After a rest stop there we drove to the South Shore for some free time. We made a few stops at scenic points for viewing and photos. We then went to Carson City where we toured the Historic District and had a great dinner with entertainment. Today we had a free day and this evening we had a super dinner at Harrah's followed by the best show I've ever seen in Reno, Broadway Showstoppers.
HELLO FROM RENO! Added: 09-05-2005|
Gold Rush Days in Sacramento was a big hit as was our dinner aboard the Delta King on the Sacramento River. Today we toured the California State Railroad Museum and then we boarded Amtrak's California Zephyr for our ride across the Sierra Nevada Mountains into Reno. We have now checked into the El Dorado Hotel and everyone has a voucher to have the dinner buffet on their own....if they can get away from those machines!
A SUNNY DAY IN SACRAMENTO Added: 09-04-2005|
I'm sitting in the lobby of the brand new Springhill Suites by Marriott Hotel in Sacramento. Everyone enjoyed their hearty breakfast this morning. Its a hot day out there so everyone is in their shorts getting ready to go to the California State Fair. After the fair we're coming back to the hotel for a little R & R and then we're off to Sacramento's "Gold Rush Days" Festival.
SAN FRANCISCO TO RENO! Added: 09-03-2005|
Everyone had a great time in San Francisco. The weather was typical San Francisco weather....a bit gray and foggy but very pleasant. My parents and I just strolled from the ship along the San Francisco waterfront along Fisherman's Wharf and through the Pier 39 entertainment complex. We came back for our last dinner on the ship and a fantastic show. This morning we left the ship and boarded our buses for a San Francisco city tour. Two of the buses went to the San Francisco International Airport for their flight home, one of the buses went to the San Jose International Airport for their flight home, and the last bus had some free time at the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Terminal Building after their tour. This is the bus I was on. After our free time we drove to Sacramento where we checked into the brand-new Springhill Suites by Marriott Hotel. This is a spectacular new hotel...everyone loves it! After some free time we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Now we're back at the hotel to enjoy the rest of the evening.
A RELAXING DAY AT SEA Added: 09-02-2005|
We left Victoria and cruised south along the Washington Coast. Yesterday morning we landed in Astoria, Oregon. It was a beautiful day! The local people went all-out to welcome us. There was a big craft fair set up right next to the pier with a bandstand featuring local bands. The city also ran shuttle service and a waterfront trolley to take people all over town. Some people took tours to the Oregon resort communities of Seaside and Cannon Beach. Others took a tour to visit the Mt. St. Helen Visitors Center. We had a beautiful sunset after our sail-away last night. Today we’ve had our first and only day “at sea”. I think that everyone has enjoyed the day just to relax and enjoy all of the facilities and activities here aboard the Celebrity Infinity. I must say that the entertainment, food, and service have all been EXCELLENT. Tomorrow we will arrive at noon in San Francisco where we will have the afternoon and evening to explore the “City by the Bay”!
GREETING FROM VICTORIA, BC, CANADA! Added: 08-30-2005|
Sunday was a very easy day. We loaded three buses near Southcenter and one by Northgate. Our Northgate bus then did an additional stop in Lynnwood and all buses went to Mt. Vernon for a rest stop with one of the buses picking up additional passengers. In total we have 181 people in our group so its kind of fun when one in 10 people on the ship are from our group! We sailed from Vancouver to Nanaimo, BC. It was a nice, smooth, and scenic ride. In Nanaimo the people were very happy to see all of us! They had a special craft fair and all of the merchants had "specials" for us. Everything on the ship has been spectactular (We're on Celebrity!). We've had big production shows both nights so far. Today we're in Victoria. While we don't have a nice sunny day like yesterday, people are still getting out and enjoying the city. This evening I'm having a big cocktail party and getting the whole group together!
21 HOURS IN SEATTLE Added: 08-27-2005|
I just returned home early this afternoon. After stopping at home and taking a nice hot shower I came into the office to catch up on some paperwork, plan the e-mail newsletter for this coming Tuesday, and pick up all of the paperwork and documents for tomorrow's cruise. Tomorrow morning we'll have four buses coming to pick up my new group and bus us up to Vancouver, Canada. There we will board the spectacular Celebrity Infinity for a six night cruise to Nanaimo, Victoria, Astoria, and San Francisco. I'll tell you more about that later. Now its almost midnight so its time to go home and do my laundry!
Greetings from Rome. I went to Sea-Tac on Tuesday
morning and checked in the first group for the Delta flight to Rome. After they were on their way I met the second group and flew with them to Rome on Northwest. Upon arrival we transfered to our hotel, Hotel Villa Pamphili". After a rest we went to La Carovana Restaurant where we had an Italian feast with lots of wine and some great Italian music. Yesterday we had a city tour of Rome including Vatican City.
As I was really "under the weather" I sent the group off with our local escorts and guides. Last night we all met back at the hotel for yet another Italian feast. Today we had a free morning. Many of the group went to do some exploring and shopping in Rome before we
left to board the Celebrity Galaxy for their 10 night Greek Islands and Italian cruise. I got everyone checked in for the ship and then went aboard to meet with the group coordinator and the maitre d'. I just returned to the hotel for a few hours of rest. At 3:30 this morning I will be picked up and taken back to the airport for my flight home! I'll arrive back in Seattle midday on Saturday so that I will have time to go to the office and pick up all of my paperwork for my next group leaving on Sunday aboard the
Celebrity Infinity. Hopefully I'll have time to do a load of laundry!
BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL...GETTING READY TO GO! Added: 08-22-2005|
I've been home for so long that I've forgotten what its like getting ready for another tour! Tomorrow morning I'll be going to Sea-Tac to check in two groups to Rome. I'll be flying with the second group. Actually, by this time tomorrow I'll just be getting ready to land in Amsterdam for my connection into Rome! I will spend two nights with the group in Rome touring all of the sights including the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. We have some great Italian meals and entertainment planned as well. On Friday I will go with the group to the Port of Civitavecchia where the group will board the Celebrity Galaxy. While I won't be going with the group on their 10 night Greek Isles and Italy cruise, I will get them settled into the ship and do all of the things that I normally do on the first day of the cruise such as meeting with the onboard group coordinator and the Maitre D'. Friday evening I will go back to Rome and try to get a few hours of sleep back at the hotel before my ride comes to pick me up at 3:30 AM for the ride to the airport for my return flight home. I'll arrive back in Seattle around noon on Saturday which will give me some time to come into the office and pick up all of the paperwork for my next tour, a six night cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco. I'll go home, do my laundry, get a few hours of sleep, and get ready to meet my group on Sunday morning for our motor-coach transfer up to Vancouver! Wow, I'm getting tired just writing this! Stay tuned, I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, I want to remind you to check your e-mail after Tuesday evening. We're going to post an Alaska cruise for May of next year that is an UNBELIEVABLE BARGAIN. We have room for 100 people on that cruise and it will probably sell out in a day or two....check it out. If you're not receiving our weekly (Tuesday) e-mails, just click on "Join Our Mailing List" and register. See you soon!
A BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY IN SEATTLE Added: 08-20-2005|
Its been a busy week getting ready to leave for Rome on Tuesday. Everything is all set for that tour as well as the West Coast cruise and Sacramento and Reno tour that follow. All of them are right in a row with no days in between!!
Those of you who receive my e-mail blasts every Tuesday know that this past Tuesday we sent out the Australia and New Zealand cruise and tour....We sold out on Wednesday! Right now I am frantically trying to get more space. If you are interested, call the office and get on the waiting list!
Today I went with my mother, Babette, to Bainbridge Island, just outside of Seattle for a wonderful day with some family friends. We took the ferry boat across and enjoyed the beautiful view and beautiful weather....and great company as well!
LAST DAY IN RENO Added: 08-15-2005|
I'm still in Reno enjoying the nice weather. I'm also doing a bit of scouting around for my tour group that is coming here in a few weeks. They have been very busy in the office booking up the Australia and New Zealand tour....we're already half sold out!! I'll be back in the office tomorrow morning to help out on the phones!
HELLO FROM RENO Added: 08-14-2005|
I know that I haven't updated this for a while...sorry....its just that I haven't had too much to tell other than I'm working in the office! We've been very busy since we started our new e-mail program. I have been sending out an e-mail every Tuesday with some extra tours that are not included in our mailer. Thanks for your great response...and thanks for forwarding them to your friends. If you're not getting our Tuesday e-mails just click on "Join Our Mailing List" and you can add your e-mail address.
Today I'm writing to you from Reno! I worked in the office yesterday and then flew down here last night. I decided just to take a couple of days of "R & R". Besides, I needed the miles! Its a beautiful day down here. I took a long walk along the new Riverwalk that the city has put in next to the river. Its nice to see the way that have fixed up the riverfront. There were lots of people of all ages playing in the river....swimming, intertubing and kyacking. I'll fly home tomorrow and I'll be back in the office on Tuesday morning.
On Thursday we FINALLY finished putting our cruise and tour to Australia and New Zealand together. We mailed out the flyers to everyone on our advance list. We will feature this tour in our weekly e-mail blast on Tuesday evening...so watch your inbox!
STILL HERE!!! Added: 08-06-2005|
Usually, when I am "on the road", I try and update the "Where's Alan" portion of the website every day. Now, when I'm home, there isn't a whole lot to tell! Our e-mail program is now in full swing. I am sending out an e-mail to everyone on our list every Tuesday evening. If you are not receiving our weekly e-mails, please click on "Join Our Mailing List" and you can add yourself to the list. Also, please suggest that your friends, family, and anyone else that you know who likes to travel joins the e-mail list. The "last minute" deals that I have been able to put together for this program are incredible! Last night I sent out an "extra" e-mail with a Pacific Northwest Sampler Cruise aboard the 5-star Celebrity Mercury. With all taxes and fees, this cruise starts at only $421.15! I will be in the office all week this coming week working on more tours and cruises for the coming months!
STILL IN SEATTLE!! Added: 08-01-2005|
I know that I haven't updated the "Where's Alan" site for a few days but there really hasn't been too much to report. I'm enjoying my time in Seattle and having a chance to see my friends and family. Our e-mail program has been a huge success and that's keeping me very busy. If you haven't signed up for our e-mail list yet just click on "Join Our Mailing List" and add your e-mail address. You will get an e-mail every Tuesday with some fantastic vacation offers. Right now I'm working late at the office preparing tomorrow's e-mail newsletter. If you've missed our last couple of e-mails you can click on "Special Offers" and see the tours that we have already sent out!
ANOTHER CRAZY DAY IN THE OFFICE Added: 07-26-2005|
It was a crazy day today...but good crazy. This afternoon I had a meeting with the Western Director for Silversea Cruise Lines. She made me the most incredible deal I have ever seen with this ultra-luxury line. Be sure to click on "special offers" and you'll see what I'm talking about! For those of you on our upcoming tour to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Spirit, the documents came in on Saturday and they will be going out to you tomorrow. For those of you on our upcoming cruise aboard the Celebrity Infinity, most of these documents arrived in our office today (two huge boxes) and they will be going out to you by the end of the week!
A BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND IN SEATTLE Added: 07-24-2005|
Even though I worked yesterday (Saturday....and we were busy!) I still enjoyed a great weekend here in Seattle. Last night I took my niece Karli, age 11, and her brother Marcus, age 6 out to dinner at one of their FAVORITE restaurants, Red Robin! (Just like their uncle, they have FAVORITE restaurants also!). Sunday was a lazy day finishing up with a nice dinner on the Edmonds Waterfront with some friends. Of course, I had to stop by the office after dinner to take care of some odds and ends including updating the website! We will be doing our 2nd e-mail blast on Tuesday so if you haven't already registered your e-mail, please be sure to click on "Join Our Mailing List" and add your e-mail. Also, I will be adding all of the e-mail blast items to the "Special Offers" section of our website so be sure to check there from time to time in addition to the "Upcoming Tours" section of the website.
CRAZY DAY AT THE OFFICE Added: 07-20-2005|
Well, its out...our first e-mail blast! We sent out two great offers. If you didn't receive it just click on "Join Our Mailing List" and add your e-mail address and we'll send you a copy along with all of our future "blasts"! Also, I just added a BARGAIN cruise down the West Coast from Vancouver to Los Angeles aboard the Norwegian Dream. This is a 5 night/6 day cruise starting at only $299 per person INCLUDING AIR AND TRANSFERS!! Taxes and fees of $159.40 are additional. If you or your friends have never been on a cruise, this is a great way to try one out...or if you just want a nice "getaway" at an incredible price, this is the ticket! Be the first one to book this and I'll give you a free upgrade!!
A VERY BUSY DAY IN THE OFFICE Added: 07-19-2005|
Today was a busy and very exciting day. We sent out our first e-mail "blast". We sent out two great specials including a Canada/New England cruise and a 23 night/24 day Panama Canal cruise for only $999 INCLUDING AIR! If you didn't receive your e-mail just click on "Join Our Mailing List" and we'll send you a copy and include you in all of our future "blasts"!
A BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND IN SEATTLE Added: 07-17-2005|
Thursday and Friday were busy days at the office. We had added more space on our cruise aboard the Celebrity Mercury down the West Coast in October and the phones are STILL ringing for it....my boss, Rick, will have his hands full! We were still busy yesterday so I ended up working into the evening on Saturday. Today I enjoyed a relaxing day at home along with dinner at Mom and Dad's house! Tomorrow I'll be back in the office and I'll be in all week. Yesterday I added our Christmas and New Year's cruise to the Caribbean to the "Upcoming Tours" section of the website. Be sure to click on that and check it out....its aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas and it has a great itinerary....plus, the price is a bargain at any time but especially over the holidays! Also, it is the only holiday sailing that I've seen that fits perfectly over both Christmas and New Year's. I know that I'll be guaranteed a "White Christmas" this year....but it will be a white sandy beach!
ONE DAY IN RENO Added: 07-13-2005|
After leaving the Pride of America I flew to Reno. I checked in at the Golden Phoenix Hotel which was formally the Flamingo Hilton. I wanted to come here and explore and see some of the new things that are happening in Reno. Many of our old favorite hotels are now closed but there are a lot of new things going on in the city. Along the river they have completed their "Riverwalk". Its fun walking along the Riverwalk. You can rent bicycles and even kyaks. Along the river there are all kinds of new restaurants and shops. I've had meetings with a couple of hotels so I can be fully updated! Tonight I fly home and tomorrow morning I'll be back in the office.
ABOARD THE PRIDE OF AMERICA! Added: 07-12-2005|
Yesterday I flew down to San Francisco for the West Coast inagural of NCL America's newest ship, Pride of America. I must say that the ship is beautiful! I had a great evening on board and had a chance to meet with a lot of the Miami staff from Norwegian Cruise Lines. Last night we were all treated to a great dinner and show. The staff is excellent. They are all very friendly and anxious to make this one of the best cruise experiences available. When NCL started their Hawaii project they had some problems with their Amerian crew but now they have an excellent training program and the standards on their American ships are equal to their other ships. I am looking forward to doing some future cruises aboard one of their new ships!
24 HOURS IN SEATTLE Added: 07-10-2005|
Yesterday we had a great evening in Victoria BC. I walked into town and met my friend Estelle who was working on the ms Amsterdam which was also in Victoria for the evening. We left at midnight and began our sailing into Puget Sound and our berth at Pier 66 in Seattle. From the time they called for my luggage tag color I was in my living room in less than one hour! Tonight I celebrated the 1st birthday of Grace Kusol, the daughter of my friends Poom and Matt. After fininishing my laundry I'll get a few hours of sleep before I head to the airport. Tomorrow morning I'll be flying to San Francisco for a special one day cruise aboard the brand new Pride of America. This is NCL America's new ship that will be doing 7 day cruises year-round in the Hawaiian Islands.
TOTEM CARVING IN KETCHIKAN Added: 07-09-2005|
Yesterday we had a great morning in Ketchikan. Our ship docked very early at 6:00 AM. My tour left the pier at 9:00 AM. We first went to the Saxman Native Village. Upon arrival we went into their new visitor center and saw a film about the native people and their history. We then went to the Totem Park where our guides gave us an explanation about all of the totem poles. We then went into the carving shed where we had an explanation of how totem poles are carved and we got to meet Nathan Jackson, the world's top totem pole master carver. We then toured the city of Ketchikan and drove down to Ward's Cove to look for eagles. After a bit of shopping time in town we reboarded our ship and began our journey south. Although we had a little bit of rain yesterday, the weather has still been very cooperative! Today the skies are clear and we're looking forward to our evening in Victoria, BC. I must say that the food and service here on the Norwegian Star has been exceptional...even exceeding my expectations. The presentation of the meals has been exceptional...it seems like every plate is a work of art. My parents are aboard with me this week and they are having a great time. (Traveling with me is the only way they get to see me!). By the way, we have opened up some more space on our "Cruise to Laughlin" tour in September. This tour combines a great cruise on the Norwegian Dream with three nights at the Flamingo Hilton in Laughlin....and its a bargain. If you called and we were full or if you just want to go, give Kristi a call at the office and she will sign you up!
A SPECTACULAR DAY IN GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK Added: 07-08-2005|
My favorite part of any Alaska cruise is the visit to a glacier. Today we spent the day in Glacier Bay National Park. We arrived early in the morning and boarded two park rangers. They stayed aboard for most of the day and gave us commentary as we passed through the narrow channels of the park. We saw waterfalls, whales, and even some bears! The glaciers were spectacular. The weather today was overcast which is perfect for viewing glaciers. This type of weather really brings out the blue in the glaciers. It is amazing to me to see how much the glaciers have retreated since when I first started coming to Alaska. Tonight I had dinner with my parents in one of the specialty restaurants here aboard the Norwegian Star. The restaurant is called Endless Summer and features a Tex-Mex menu. The food and service were great...and there is no cover charge for this specialty restaurant! Tomorrow we'll arrive early in the morning in Ketchikan.
HELLO FROM SUNNY SKAGWAY! Added: 07-06-2005|
Yesterday was a great day in Juneau. We had our own buses pick us up at the pier and take us to Mendenhall Glacier, the "Chapel at the Lake", the DiPac Salmon Hatchery, and around the city. The weather cooperated and everyone enjoyed the tour. We didn't sail until 10 PM last night so some of the group even went into town for a bit of nightlife! Today we woke up in Skagway. Again, our buses were waiting for us and took us on a tour of the city and then up to White Pass. While it was a bit nippy at the summit, the views and the waterfalls were spectacular. This afternoon everyone is in town shopping!
GREETINGS FROM THE NORWEGIAN STAR! Added: 07-05-2005|
Kristi and I both worked late in the office on Saturday putting the finishing touches on this and a bunch of our future tours. Yesterday I got a ride down to Pier 66. I was able to check in and board the ship in less than 15 minutes! Then at 4:00 we set sail headed north to Alaska! I have a big group....184, so I broght my parents, Irwin and Babette, along to help out. Tonight we had a big cocktail party for the whole group. Tomorrow we'll be in our first port of call, Juneau. By the way, when I return next week we're going to finalize two of our upcoming land tours...both the Croatia/Slovenia tour and the Scotland and Ireland tour. If you are interested in either of these tours please give Kristi a call at the office. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about Juneau.
COUNTING DOWN TO THE BIG ALASKA CRUISE! Added: 07-01-2005|
Its been another real busy day in the office. We've put all of the finishing touches on Sunday's Alaska cruise while we're still taking new bookings for all of our new tours. By the way, if you have any friends in the San Diego or Southern California areas we can book "reverse air" for them if they want to join our Pacific Coastal cruise aboard the Celebrity Mercury leaving right from Seattle to Ensenada, Mexico. We simply book their air from California to Seattle before the cruise and then they have a great 8 night cruise to California. At the end of the cruise we even provide their transfer from Ensenada to the San Diego airport....just give us a call. We're still working on a bunch of new tours for 2006....stay tuned!
STILL IN SEATTLE!! Added: 06-30-2005|
I'm working late again tonight putting all of the finishing touches on my Alaska cruise that will be leaving on Sunday right from Seattle on the Norwegian Star. Its been an interesting week here at the office. The phones have been really busy since we sent out our new mailer. Last night I had a fun and interesting evening. I went on the Eldorado Hotel and Casino's private yacht in Seattle. We left from the Magnolia Marina and enjoyed a beautiful Seattle evening. I learned a lot about what's happening in Reno...and there is a lot happening! Its been a long time since I've done a tour to Reno but I think I will be looking at that destination again real soon. They have completed their "Riverwalk" and their "Arts District". They are also just completing their "train trench" so that there will no longer be trains going right through the heart of town and there will no longer be train noise. Stay tuned!!
STILL AT THE OFFICE! Added: 06-26-2005|
I decided to come in and work for a few hours today because I know that tomorrow will be extra busy with everyone getting their mailers. I did come across an incredible deal if you are looking for an easy get-away right from Seattle. On the August 22nd sailing of the Norwegian Dream they are having a "2 for 1" sale. This is for a 10 day cruise to Alaska starting and ending right in Seattle! This cruise has great ports and lots of glaciers. The total cost for 2 was only $1981.62 including all taxes and port charges!! By the way, this is for a "Category D" stateroom with a picture window. I don't know how long this will last but if you are interested, give us a call! This week I'll be putting on all of the finishing touches for our cruise next week to Alaska. By the way, on this one I'm doing all of my own shore excursions in each of the ports, which is always very popular with my groups.
WORKING LATE AT THE OFFICE! Added: 06-25-2005|
It is now 9:00 PM and I'm still here at the office. Our new mailer went out the other day and the phones have been ringing! If you haven't received your new mailer by Wednesday, give us a call and we'll send you out a new one. Of course, you can see all of our tours on the website by clicking on "Upcoming Tours". Other than that, there's really nothing too exciting to report. Even though I just got out the latest mailer, I'm already working on the next one...2006 is going to be a great year to travel!
HOME SWEET HOME Added: 06-21-2005|
Our day in Dover was a breeze. Our London guides, Mike and Michael were waiting with the buses upon our arrival. We quickly loaded the buses and we were off to Gatwick Airport. Our return flights were good....we even arrived in Minneapolis about a half hour early! Customs was quick so we had some free time to stretch our legs between flights. Now I'm back in Seattle! I got to visit my parents for Father's Day and now I'm back in the office putting together even more new tours. Check the "upcoming tours" section of the website for some of the new tours that we've added. Actually, keep checking for the next couple of days as we'll be adding more every day!
COPENHAGEN, OSLO AND A DAY AT SEA! Added: 06-17-2005|
We've been quite busy since we left Tallinn. First we had a day in Copenhagen. We arrived at noon and my group had a free afternoon to enjoy Copenhagen and go SHOPPING! I scheduled an evening tour for the group which worked out great! We toured all of the sights and we were the only ones there! We had a wonderful guide and in two hours we did what normally takes three to four hours! Our tour ended at Tivoli Gardens where our admission tickets were waiting for us. We then had two hours to enjoy Tivoli with all of the rides, shows, and attractions. We left right after the Hans Christian Anderson parade and returned to the ship around 11:00 PM. Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Oslo, Norway. Here again we had a great tour and saw all of the sights including the Viking Ship Museum. Again, a fantastic guide. Everyone really enjoyed all of the "exclusive" tours that our group had. We returned to the ship for dinner and our evening sail-away. Today we are at sea all day as we are making our way back to Dover. Tomorrow we will leave the beautiful Celebrity Constellation in Dover where our London tour guides will be waiting for us to take us back to Gatwick Airport for our return flights to the USA.
TALLINN, ESTONIA Added: 06-15-2005|
Many in the group thought that Tallinn was the highlight of the cruise...at least so far! Estonia is one of the former Soviet Republics. They now have their independance and they are very proud people! Our bus and our fantastic guide, Anastacia, were waiting for us at the pier. We started our tour with a visit to Peter's Palace. We then went to the Song Festival Grounds...which were very impressive. We then left our bus at the upper "Old City" where we began our walking tour. We walked through the cobblestone streets of this Hanseatic League City. Our guide showed us all of the sights. We then went to the lower town where we proceeded to the Olde Hansa Restaurant for a huge Estonian feast...both the lunch and the setting were fantastic. After lunch we had some free time for shopping or just sitting in one of the sidewalk cafes and watching the world go by. Fortunately the fantastic weather is still following us!!
HELSINKI, FINLAND & ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA! Added: 06-15-2005|
Helsinki is always a great town to visit. We arrived in the morning to beautiful weather. Our bus was waiting for us to take us on a tour of this beautiful city. We started our tour with a visit to Helsinki'ø famous Rock Church. We had a great guide who explained everything about the church and then let us have a visit inside. We then went to Sibelius Park to see the monument of 527 steel pipes which honors the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius...who wrote 'Finalndia'. We then toured the town passing the Olympic Stadium, the Opera House, the Parliment, and Senate Square. We then went to the open air market by the local harbor. Some of the group left the tour there and took some extra time for shopping, looking around, and/or having lunch from one of the vendors. The rest of us just enjoyed the nice weather at the market and then returned to the ship. After returning to the ship, I met one of my former colleagues, Jennifer, who is living for two years in Helsinki. We had a nice lunch and then she gave me a tour and showed me where her family is living. After returning to the ship I visited all of the dinner tables and saw a great show. Many of the group went to bed early to get ready for the two long days of touring in St. Petersburg. I didn't operate my own tours in St. Petersburg so I had two days to work on helping to put my new mailer together. Of course, Bill, Kristi, and Kathy were busy doing the same at the office. Meanwhile the group had a fantastic time visiting the Hermitage, the palaces, the markets and even seeing evening performances like the ballet and the Russian Folkloric Show. Now its on to Estonia and Germany!
A DAY AT SEA (FINALLY!) AND A DAY IN GERMANY Added: 06-15-2005|
After Tallinn we returned to the ship where we had our big "Travel With Alan" coctail party. We had our party in the intimate "Michael's Club". Almost everyone came and it was a great time. We had a big production show after dinner. Yesterday we enjoyed a day at sea which was nice after all of the days we had in port. Today we had a full day tour to Berlin. Our ship came in early this morning to the port of Rostock. We left at 8:15 in the morning and met our guide and our big double-decker bus. We then made our way into Berlin. We visited most of the major sights in the city including the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. We got to view several pieces of "the wall". Halfway through the tour we stopped for lunch at a great local restaurant called "The Fat Innkeeper". We had a great German style lunch complete with entertainment and German beer! After lunch we toured many of the city´s other top sights including a guided tour through the Allied Museum. We had a visit to the "bombed out church" and time for shopping before we made our way back to Rostock and our ship.
POLAND AND SWEDEN Added: 06-12-2005|
Our first port of call was in Gdynia, Poland. This was especially exciting for me since I am half Polish and I've never been to Poland before! This year I have arranged my own shore excursions for my group in all of the ports of call except St. Petersburg (next year I'm doing my own in St. Petersburg too!). Our coach, driver, and guide were waiting for us on the pier. We had a great tour of the tri-cities area of Gdynia, Gdansk, and Sopot. Everyone was very impressed, especially with the Long Market Street in Gdansk. I know that a lot of people (including me) bought amber jewelry there. We also visited Solidarity Square just outside the shipyard where the Solidarity movement was born. After a night on the ship with some good food and good entertainment we ended up in Stockholm, Sweden. Here our double-decker bus took us all over the city. In fact, we were the only tour that visited both the City Hall (where the Nobel Prize banquets are held every year) and the Vasa Museum (a huge warship that sank right after it was launched). We saw a lot of the city and even got to join in with all of the graduating high school students as they drove through the town in trucks all decorated in tree limbs playing loud music and drinking lots of beer. It was really a sight to see! We had a fantastic guide and really got a feel for the city. On to Helsinki!
SCANDINAVIA HO! Added: 06-11-2005|
I'm sorry that I haven't updated the website for a while. Our internet connection has been going in and out. A couple of days ago I wrote a long entry and when I went to save it the entry vanished into "cyberspace". We now seem to have a stable connection so I will update you in smaller segments and bring you current!
Our last night in London was great. We had a super carvery dinner at the hotel and then had a free evening. With our central London location, most of us took a walk to Leicester Square or Picadilly Circus. London is a great town! One of these days real soon I plan on doing either a London theatre tour or a combination of London and Paris with the Eurostar train in-between. On Saturday we had a free morning in London and then boarded our coaches for the ride down to Dover where we boarded the spectacular Celebrity Costellation. The Constellation is Celebrity's newest ship and she has all of the "bells and whistles". The ship, the food, the service, and the entertainment is all top notch! We had two great days at sea. Everyone has been enjoying the ship and all of the on-board activities. Celebrity has taken the top lounge and transformed it into the "Bar at the Edge of the Earth". They have done this in cooperation with the Cirque du Soleil Company. At night they have their "Cirque du Soleil Interactive Experiences" there. It is quite different from anything you will see on any other cruise ship....and this is in addition to the regular shows and entertainment. Fortunately, everyone got a lot of rest in the two sea days because coming up is five ports in a row!!
GREETINGS FROM JOLLY OLD LONDON! Added: 06-03-2005|
On Wednesday I flew with the group from Seattle to London. After we arrived we transfered to the Thistle Marble Arch Hotel, a beautiful hotel located right in the heart of the city. Last night, after dinner in the hotel, we went to see a new musical called "Far Pavillions". It was a great show....I've been humming the tunes all day! Today we had a city tour with our local guides. We saw it all, Big Ben, the Thames River, Oxford Street, Changing of the Guard, and much much more. Tomorrow our buses will pick us up at the hotel and take us to Dover where we will board the Celebrity Constellation for our cruise to Scandinavia and Russia.
A GREAT MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND Added: 05-30-2005|
Its been a good three days. The weather in Seattle has been great over the three day weekend! On Saturday I was in the office putting the finishing touches on our upcoming tours. Today I was down at Pier 66 aboard one of my old favorites, the Norwegian Dream. We had a group of 88 passengers boarding the ship today for the 10 day cruise from Seattle to Alaska. I met them aboard the ship and threw a "bon voyage cocktail party" before the ship left port. Tomorrow I'll be putting the final finsihing touches on three new tours and I'll be getting everything ready for our new mailer.
BACK IN THE OFFICE Added: 05-26-2005|
Its been a busy couple of days here in the office. Today I put the finishing touches on another new tour. By the middle of next week you will finally see some new tours on the website....stay tuned!
MYSTERY TOUR DESTINATION: ST. LOUIS! Added: 05-24-2005|
I'm sorry that I haven't updated the website in the last few days. The internet service at our hotel was out of order. Now I'm at the airport ready to fly home to Seattle and I was able to get an internet connection! On Saturday we met the groups at the airport and got everyone checked in for their flights. Everyone was surprised to find out that we were going to St. Louis. Since we had 105 people in the group we were divided onto three different airlines. Everyone arrived at just about the same time. Upon arrival we transfered to the Embassy Suites Hotel just in tme for their famous "Manager's Reception".....always a big hit! We then went to Harrah's Casino for their huge buffet dinner. On Sunday we went to Grant's Farm. This is a great theme park. We first took the tram ride through their animal habitat. We saw all kinds of animals including buffalo, zebra, antelope and even some rare species. After the tram ride there were different shows to see including the "Animal Encounter Show" and their "Elephant Education Show". Many of us enjoyed a bratworst along with the complimentary beer in the pavillion. We then went to historic St. Charles where they were having their Lewis and Clark Festival. In addition to all that St. Charles normally has to offer, they had all kinds of craft and food booths along with fife and drum bands and historic reinactments. We then returned to the hotel for "happy hour". On Sunday evening we went to the historic Bissel Mansion for a % mystery dinner theatre". Everyone had a part and it was a real good time! Yesterday we started with a St. Louis city tour with our local guides. We had visits into the New Cathedral and the Old Courthouse. Our tour ended at the Union Station for some free time. We then went to Budweiser for a tour and samples! Last night, after happy hour (of course!) we went to Laclede's Landing where we visited the Royal Dumpe Dinner Theatre. We all banged on the table and joined in while we had a great dinner. My friend who was helping me with the tour, Brian Keevy from Portland, ended up in "the stocks"! Today was a full day as well. We started off with a visit to the Gateway Arch where we all boarded the tram cars and went to the top of the arch. Afterward we went to the Mississippi Riverfront where we boarded the "Becky Thatcher" for a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi. We then came here to the airport where we got all of the groups checked in. Now I'm getting ready to head back to Seattle. I'll be home for a whole week!!! During this week I'll be putting the finishing touches on a few new tours so watch your mailbox!
HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW! Added: 05-20-2005|
Our cruise aboard the Norwegian Dream came to an end yesterday. We got all 497 passengers on their transportation home. I then remained in Vancouver and met another group of 52 people who came onboard for an 11 day cruise to Alaska. I had an orientation and a cocktail party and wished them a "bon voyage". I then left the ship just as they were pulling up the lines and took a bus back to Sea-Tac to retrieve my car. Today I've been in the office all day doing the final preparations for my "mystery tour" which leaves early in the morning....I'll keep you posted!
ANOTHER DAY AT SEA! Added: 05-18-2005|
A lot has happened since my last entry. We left the Voyager of the Seas and did a tour of New York City. Aside from one of the buses breaking down, it was a pretty good tour. We then had lunch at Macy's before departing to the airport. I got everyone checked in for their flights. 52 members of the group then went with me to Los Angeles for this next cruise. Actually, they didn't go with me....after I got the whole group checked in and I went to check in for the flight I found out that my reservation had been cancelled! I had to catch up with that group on the next flight!! We spent a night at the Crowne Plaza in Los Angeles. Monday morning we did "airport runs" picking up people from LAX, Ontario Airport, and Long Beach Airport. My boss, Rick, and his wife, Karen, flew in to help along with my friends Stephen and Joanne from Vancouver. We're now all onboard and making our way up to Vancouver. Last night we had my biggest cocktail party ever, 497 people! We had to have our party in the Stardust Lounge, the main showroom on the ship. It was the only room big enough for the whole group.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY AT SEA Added: 05-14-2005|
Yesterday and today have been beautiful days at sea! The sun is out and the temperatures have been in the mid 70s with a slight breeze....couldn't be better. Everyone is taking advantage of these days to try out some of the amenities here on the ship like the miniature golf course, the skating track, and even the rock climbing wall. Last night we had a big cocktail party and got the whole group together. With 272 people we totally filled the lounge! Tomorrow we'll dock at Port Liberty and do our New York City tour.
GREETINGS FROM LABADEE Added: 05-12-2005|
Yesterday we had another day at sea to relax and partake in all of the activities here on the ship. In addition to the programs onboard, this ship has so many other things to do like the rock climbing wall and even ice skating! Today we're at one of Royal Caribbean's private destinations in the Caribbean, Labadee. Today is a day to swim, snorkel, and lay in the sun....or to just take a walk on the beach and enjoy the special "island style" lunch. I realized today that for the first time ever we have four "Travel With Alan" tours operating at the same time! I'm here on the Voyager of the Seas in the Caribbean, my boss, Rick, is in the Caribbean aboard the Grandeur of the Seas, my friend and colleague, Jackie, is crossing the Atlantic aboard the Celebrity Galaxy, and my cousins, Norene and Richard, are sailing up the West Coast aboard the Norwegian Spirit. In total there are 542 people on a "Travel With Alan" tour today!!
GREETINGS FROM ARUBA! Added: 05-10-2005|
Today has been a perfect day in Aruba. Its been a bit windy but otherwise, perfect! We arrived at 7 AM and we're here all the way until 1 AM. During the day everyone went to the beach and went shopping. Tonight some of the people are heading back into town to visit some of the nightclubs and casinos or to see one of the local shows. Still others will visit the world famous "Carlos and Charlies"...it does get a bit wild there (from what I've heard)! Also tonight back on the ship we're going to have a big Caribbean deck party complete with conga lines, limbo contests, and a Caribbean buffet. Tomorrow we'll have another day at sea to rest up!
A RELAXING DAY AT SEA Added: 05-09-2005|
We had a great flight to Miami. I flew with the first group on the non-stop "red eye". The Embassy Suites invited all of us to come over for their "cooked to order" breakfast while we were waiting for our rooms. The hotel did work hard and by 2:00 we were all in our rooms. I spent the rest of the afternoon shuttling back and forth to the airport picking up all of the other groups as did my assistants on this tour, Keith and Jessica Nelson. Saturday we loaded up all of the buses for our Miami city tour. Everyone really enjoyed the local guides. Then we boarded the spectacular Voyager of the Seas. This ship is truly remarkable....a destination in itself! Saturday night there was a huge Mardi Gras parade in the Grand Promenade. Its easy to forget that you're even on a ship! Saturday was also the day that 84 people left with my friend and colleague, Jackie, for our Trans-Atlantic and European Cruise. Yesterday and today are just quiet days at sea. Tomorrow its Aruba!!
GETTING READY TO GO! Added: 05-05-2005|
To say its been a busy couple of days here at the office would be an understatement! We finally received most of the documents from NCL for our coastal cruise so they are now coming out in the mail. We've had an assembly line here getting them ready and out the door! We also prepared our private shore excursions for the upcoming cruise to Scandinavia and Russia...those of you on that tour can watch for those soon! Tomorrow I'll be in the office all day preparing for my next two tours and then tomorrow night I'll be flying to Miami on a "red-eye" flight for our cruise aboard the Voyager of the Seas!
BACK HOME AGAIN! Added: 05-01-2005|
Its been a busy weekend! On Friday I flew with 110 people from Seattle to New Orleans. We split the group in half so my boss, Rick. took one half and I had the other. We got everyone checked into the hotel and then on Saturday we took everyone on a city tour. Rick now has the whole group and they'll be doing a 14 day Caribbean cruise. Meanwhile I went back to the airport and met 77 more people and checked them into the hotel. Today I did a city tour with them and put them on the Norwegian Dream for a 19 day Panama Canal cruise. I'll be rejoining this group on May 16th in Los Angeles for the last 3 days of their cruise with about 500 others! After I got them all settled in I flew back to Seattle. Tomorrow its back to the office!
READY TO GO Added: 04-29-2005|
I'm here at the office getting the last minute paperwork for our two groups in New Orleans. It's hard to believe that I'll be back in the office on Monday morning! For those of you on the Scandinavia and Russia cruise, on Monday we'll be sending you the special "Travel With Alan" shore excursion offerings...we've got some good ones!
BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL! Added: 04-28-2005|
Tonight I'm still here in the office getting everything ready for our coastal cruises aboard the Norwegian Spirit and the Norwegian Dream. Tomorrow I'll be flying to New Orleans with my boss, Rick and taking 110 people with us for a 14 day Caribbean cruise aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. We'll spend one night in New Orleans and then the next day we'll have a city tour. After our city tour I'll go to the ship with the group and get them checked in. Then I'll go aboard the ship with Rick to meet with the group coordinator and the Maitre d' so that I'll know that the tour will be "smooth sailing"! After the ship sails I'll return to the airport to pick up 84 more people who will overnight in New Orleans. Then on Sunday morning we'll have a city tour and I will take them to the pier to board the Norwegian Dream. This is one of our unescorted tours but I will still go aboard to be sure that everything is set up for the entire cruise. I will rejoin these people 16 days later in Los Angeles for our last three days cruising up the West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver. After I leave the pier, I'll return to the airport for my flight back home on Sunday night!
HOME SWEET HOME.....BUT JUST FOR A MINUTE! Added: 04-27-2005|
Yesterday we left Carthage and drove up to the town of Butler, Missouri. We had a fantastic lunch at the Flaming Lantern Restaurant. They claim to have the best barbeque in the Kansas City area and most of our group agreed! We then drove up to the Kansas City International Airport for our flights home. Today it was back in the office getting ready for the next tour!
GREETINGS FROM CARTHAGE, MISSOURI Added: 04-25-2005|
We had a great last night in Branson. First we went to the Circle-B Chuckwagon Dinner and Show. We had a great cowboy supper and then saw the super talented Horne Family perform some great "cowboy music". We then went to the #1 show in Branson, Shoji Tabuchi. Shoji has really outdone himself with his new show for 2005. It was a real crowd pleaser! Today we drove to Carthage, Missouri where we visited the Precious Moments Chapel. We had lunch there before our tour. We then went to the Fountain of Angels Show at Precious Moments which was another big hit! Afterwards we had a city tour with a local guide including a visit to their historic County Courthouse. After a bit of free time at the hotel we went back to Downtown Carthage where we had a great Italian Dinner at the 311 Cafe. We then went to their back room called "The Woodshed" and had a private performance with their bluegrass band called "No Apparent Reason". Tomorrow we'll head back towards Kansas City for a barbeque lunch before we go to the airport for our return flights home.
TWO MORE "FULL DAYS"! Added: 04-24-2005|
Yesterday was a huge day. We started off the day with Branson's #1 morning show, The Doug Gabriel Show. Doug is a real crowd pleaser and the world's foremost mufftar player. We then made a drive to Green Forest, Arkansas where we had lunch at The Farmer's Daughter Restaurant. I love finding restaurants that aren't often visited by tour groups. This is a favorite local restaurant in this small town and they specialize in "good home cookin"! Everyone just loved it! We then drove to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where we met our local guide, Joe Gunnels. We toured the whole town both on our bus and on one of the city's trams. We then had a great dinner at the Bavarian Inn, a restaurant specializing in Czech food. After dinner we went to Eureka Springs' top music show, The Pine Mountain Jamboree...again, everyone loved it! Today we started with a "duck ride". These restored WWII amphibious vehicles took us on a tour through the town before diving into Table Rock Lake. We then had a great lunch at the Lone Star Steak House. After lunch we went to historic Downtown Branson for a bit of shopping time. Tonight will be a busy night as well!
A FULL DAY IN BRANSON! Added: 04-22-2005|
Today was a big day here in Branson. We started off the morning with the Hughes Brothers Show. This is a great family show that includes 28 members of the Hughes family....each one, down to the little kids, very talented! We then had a great lunch followed by a tour of the College of the Ozarks. This is a very unique school where all of the students work for their tuition. After a bit of free time we went to the Dixie Stampede....a great dinner show with everything from champion horse riding to ostrich races and a huge dinner that you eat with your fingers. After the Dixie Stampede we went to see Mickey Gilley. This was a great show that includes Mickey's band and comedian Joey Riley. Tomorrow is even a bigger day!
GREETINGS FROM BRANSON! Added: 04-21-2005|
Its been a busy couple of days since I wrote last. I took my group to the airport and checked them into their flights from New Orleans. Then I ran to the other end of the airport to check-in for my flight to Kansas City. I arrived there just before my group and we transfered to our hotel, The Embassy Suites located in the Country Club Plaza area of Kansas City. We spent two nights in Kansas City doing a city tour, touring the Hallmark Visitor's Center, and seeing a great dinner theatre show called "Two Across" staring Bonnie Franklin and Bruce Weitz. Today has been a very full day. We left Kansas City and made our way to Independence. There we went to the visitor's center for President Truman's home. We saw an audio-visual presentation and had a park service ranger speak with us. Then we visited the Truman Presidential Library. After a great lunch we went to Springfield where we visited the Fantastic Caverns. These are the only caves in the USA that you can drive through....in their special jeep pulled trams. We then visited the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World and had a great dinner there. After dinner we drove to Branson where we checked into the hotel! Tomorrow is another very full day!
HELLO FROM THE BIG EASY....NEW ORLEANS! Added: 04-18-2005|
After our last day at sea we arrived in New Orleans. We had two buses waiting for us and we had a great city tour....two of the best local guides I have ever had anywhere! After the tour one of the buses headed for the Hilton Riverside Hotel to check in for the two night optional extension in New Orleans. The other group had a little free time before I took them to the airport to fly home. Last night we had the huge buffet dinner at Harrah's Casino, right across the street from our hotel. Everyone has been enjoying all of the local food, especially the gumbo! Today we toured the Oak Alley Plantation. We had a great guide again for our tour of the plantation home and then had a good southern dinner. Afterwards it was back to Harrah's where we saw the Earl Turner show. Everyone thought that it was one of the best shows that they had ever seen! I think I'll have to start doing more tours to New Orleans!
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY COZUMEL Added: 04-15-2005|
One could not ask for a more perfect day. Its about 80 degrees out with a nice cool breeze....and not a cloud in the sky. This is what the Caribbean is all about! I continue to be very impressed with our ship, the Carnival Conquest. Everything is well beyond my expectations....food, service, ship, and entertainment.
HELLO FROM GRAND CAYMAN Added: 04-14-2005|
Its a beautiful day here in the Cayman Islands. The sun is shining and everyone is having a great day...although with five big ships in port the town is crowded. Tonight on the ship is our last formal night complete with a big show and the gala buffet.
NO PROBLEM, MON! Added: 04-13-2005|
Greetings from Montego Bay, Jamaica! Yesterday was another great day at sea. Last night I had my big cocktail party....those are always fun...its fun to get the whole group together. Last night we had a huge deck party....I think the whole ship was there. This morning we arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Although its been overcast with a couple of rain showers, mostly the weather has been good.
A RELAXING DAY AT SEA! Added: 04-11-2005|
The weather was pretty good today and its supposed to be very good tomorrow. Everything on board has been great....way above my expectations. The music all around the ship is some of the best I've heard on any cruise ship. Tomorrow its another day at sea!
CRUISING DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI Added: 04-10-2005|
We had a great flight to New Orleans. We changed planes in Denver...I guess we just beat their huge storm there! We checked in at the Hilton Riverside...a beautiful hotel right in the heart of the "action". It was the French Quarter Festival so there was music and food booths everywhere. New Orleans is a fun town...everyone had a blast! Today we boarded the Carnival Conquest. The ship is beautiful. I think Carnival is the most improved cruise line. The food and service have been excellent also. Tonight we're cruising down the Mississippi and headed for the Caribbean.
LAST NIGHT IN SEATTLE Added: 04-08-2005|
Tomorrow morning I have an early flight for the "Crescent City", New Orleans! I'm at the office putting some finishing touches on some of our upcoming tours. For those of you on our upcoming cruises on the Voyager of the Seas from Miami to New York and for those of you on our Panama Canal cruise aboard the Norwegian Dream, I am pleased to tell you that the cruise tickets are now in. We're checking all of them and inserting the air itineraries.....You should have them in your mailbox within a week! I'll write more tomorrow from New Orleans!
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! Added: 04-07-2005|
Well, I have one more day in Seattle before I'm off to New Orleans. I've been working on all of the finishing touches on our upcoming tours and even planning some new ones so....stay tuned!
HOME SWEET HOME (BRIEFLY!) Added: 04-06-2005|
This morning we drove from Laughlin to Henderson where we had a great brunch at the new Green Valley Ranch. We then went to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and flew home. I'll be home for two days and then its off to New Orleans!
LAUGHLIN, NEVADA!!! Added: 04-05-2005|
We have some very full days the last couple of days. We left the Grand Canyon and headed west. We did a nice drive along Route 66 and made our way to the Grand Canyon Caverns. We went down 21 stories into some spectacular caves. We had a tour through the caves with some guides and had a nice lunch there also. We then continued on Route 66 to Kingman, Arizona where we visited the Route 66 Museum. We then arrived in Laughlin where we checked into the Flamingo Hilton. I don't have to tell you what everyone did the rest of the evening! Today we took a tour to Lake Havasu where we had a cruise on the lake. After lunch we headed to the old mining town of Oatman, Arizona. Upon arrival we were greeted by some outlaws who "held up" our bus! They then put on a big gunfight show in the street. Oatman is an interesting town where burros wander the streets! Now we're back in Laughlin. After dinner we're going to see "A Really Big Shew" in the Flamingo Showroom.
HELLO HELLO HELLO FROM THE GRAND CANYON! Added: 04-03-2005|
Today was a great day. The weather is still with us! We started the morning with a drive to the Sunset Crater National Monument. One of the park rangers gave us a great tour of the lava fields and took us on a little hike. Then we went to Cameron for lunch. After lunch we entered Grand Canyon Nstional Park from the east entrance. Our guide met us and gave us a great tour along the South Rim. We finished our tour at the main gate where we said goodbye to our guide and drove into Tusayan where we say the IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon. After we checked into our hotel we had a bit of free time before we went for a great dinner and a Native American music and dance show. It was a full day....I'm sure everyone will sleep well tonight!
LAST DAY IN FLAGSTAFF Added: 04-02-2005|
Yesterday morning we left Phoenix and headed for Cottonwood, Arizona where we had a great lunch. We met our local guide at the restaurant and headed to Sedona....what a beautiful area.....lots of red rock formations...and the weather was fantastic. We then made our way through the Oak Creek Canyon and into Flagstaff where we checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel! After happy hour we went out for dinner. Today we visited the Petrified Forest National Park and the Walnut Creek National Monument. Tomorrow its off to Sunset Crater National Monument and the Grand Canyon!
HELLO FROM SUNNY PHOENIX! Added: 03-31-2005|
Yesterday I flew with my group from Seattle to Phoenix. Upon arrival we transfered to the Embassy Suites Hotel...a great hotel built in a Southwest style. Since my group are all Chinese-Americans, we went out for a great Chinese dinner.....after the hotel's complimentary "happy hour". Today we had a city tour with a local guide and then had a dim sum lunch. After lunch we had a guided tour through the Desert Botanical Gardens including their new butterfly pavilion. Tonight its off to Rawhide Steakhouse and Western Village.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN Added: 03-30-2005|
I'm just leaving the office to go home and pack and get a couple of hours of sleep before I drive to Sea-Tac and fly to Phoenix with my group! I just finished typing the Branson itinerary....so, for those of you on the Branson tour you'll be getting it in the next few days...after Kristi has a chance to proofread it and fix all of my mistakes! This tour is for a private group in case you're wondering why you never read about it. By the way, I should mention that for any group of 40 or more I will do customized tours....just ask us!
GETTING READY TO GO AGAIN! Added: 03-26-2005|
I've got three more days here in town with a lot to do! During the month of May over 1400 of you will be on one of my tours so we're busy doing a lot of finishing touches. Kathy Kontney has moved full time into our group department...welcome aboard Kathy! She has worked with many of you in the past being the coordinator for some of our groups and now we have her full time. Besides myself, Kristi, Kathy, Bill, and Tamiyo are here ready to help you. Of course the others in the office are always pitching in. Naomi has been busy lately doing all of the hotel, meal and attractions bookings for our land tours and Chris from our Mukilteo office has been pumping out air tickets like crazy! A big thanks to everyone! FLASH...we just discovered that we have one balcony cabin left on our Canada/New England cruise aboard the brand new Norwegian Jewel in October...and its a real bargain. Call us and grab it! Have a Happy Easter!
BUSY WEEK AT THE OFFICE Added: 03-24-2005|
The last few days have been a zoo. We have so many tours coming up so quickly that we're busy getting all of the documents out and putting the finishing touches on the tours. In addition, the phones are still ringing from our last mailer! Tomorrow, my parents, Irwin and Babette, are leaving for Holland and Belgium taking my tour group on their "Tulips and Windmills" cruise. I will leave on Wednesday with a private group doing a tour of Phoenix, Sedona, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Caverns, Laughlin, Lake Havasu, and more. In addition, I've been putting together a few new tours....stay tuned!
HOME SWEET HOME Added: 03-20-2005|
Today was a long day. Our ship arrived late into San Francisco so we were delayed in disembarkation. We had some people on earlier flights who just barely made the flights. Fortunately most of the group took a San Francisco city tour after the cruise so although we did have to cut the trip a bit short, we weren't rushed! Now I'm back in Seattle....tomorrow its back to the office!
A RESTFUL DAY AT SEA! Added: 03-18-2005|
Today has been a beautiful day cruising up the coast of Mexico. Everyone was out on deck enjoying the sunshine. The band was playing all day by the pool....just a relaxing day at sea! Tonight is the big formal dinner (lobster!), a big production show and the gala buffet! I've had some time to polish off another new tour...check on the website next week for something great!!
HELLO FROM MAZATLAN! Added: 03-17-2005|
The last two days have been beautiful sunny days in both Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan. Last night we had a big party on the top deck with lots of music and a huge buffet! This morning we arrived early in Mazatlan and we'll have an early departure this afternoon. Then we'll have two days at sea cruising back to San Francisco.
BUENOS DIAS FROM CABO SAN LUCAS Added: 03-16-2005|
Hola! It's a beautiful day in Sunny Cabo....clear skies and a slight breeze! Everyone is having a great time. The food and the entertainment aboard the ship has been EXCELLENT! Last night I had my cocktail party...it was fun to get the whole group together. Tomorrow its Mazatlan!
SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA Added: 03-14-2005|
Today we've been at sea all day aboard the Celebrity Mercury....Its been smooth sailing! Everyone is enjoying the ship and all of the activities and just having a relaxing day. Tonight is formal night so we're all getting ready for a big dinner and the big show tonight!
HELLO FROM MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA Added: 03-13-2005|
Its been a busy couple of days! Yesterday I had a morning flight from Seattle to Oakland. Our buses were waiting for us and drove us across the Bay Bridge to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. We gave everyone an hour of free time at Pier 39 while we dropped off all of the luggage at the pier. We then picked everyone up and took them back to the pier. We waltzed right onto the ship and our luggage was already waiting for us! We sailed last night and woke up this morning in Monterey. Monterey is a great tourist town...I love the wharf with all of the shops, restaurants, and street entertainers. Tonight we set sail and have to days at sea on our way to sunny Mexico!
GETTING READY TO LEAVE AGAIN! Added: 03-12-2005|
Well its just after midnight and I'm just leaving the office to go home and pack. I have an early morning flight to San Francisco where I'll be boarding the Celebrity Mercury for a cruise of the California Coast and Mexico. Its been a crazy week since we sent out our mailer....the phones have been ringing off the hook. Thank you for your patience if we didn't get right back to you. Even with four of us in the group department I know that we did fall a bit behind. Stay tuned to the website...believe it or not there's even more new tours coming soon!
HOME SWEET HOME! Added: 03-08-2005|
I arrived back in Seattle yesterday morning. II spent a lot of time on the phone and finally went to sleep around 2 PM. I couldn't believe that I slept all the way to 7 PM. I then watched TV for a bit and went out for something to eat and then slept all the way to 8 AM! I guess I really needed it! Anyway, now I'm back on Seattle time! Today has been a busy day in the office. We're getting a bunch of calls on the new mailer that just went out plus we're putting the finishing touches on our upcoming tours. I even put two brand new tours together today!
LAST NIGHT IN HONG KONG Added: 03-06-2005|
We had a great day today. We first went to Victoria Peak. We took the Peak Tram to the top. It was the clearest day that I have ever seen in Hong Kong! We then went to Stanley Market for last minute shopping. Then it was off to Jumbo Floating Restaurant for a fantastic farewell dinner. After we returned to the hotel I met with my local agents to start planning for next year's tour. Next year we will include the new high speed train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong as well as the new Disneyland Hong Kong which will open this fall. Tomrrow morning its an early wake-up call for our flight home.
HOMEWARD BOUND IN NARITA, JAPAN Added: 03-06-2005|
This morning there was no traffic going out of town to the airport. We checked in quickly and flew to Narita (Tokyo). We have some time between flights and then I'll be flying with most of the group non-stop to Seattle while other members of the group are flying to their destinations directly on other flights. We have people flying today to Newark, Los Angeles, Orange County, Milwaukee, Redmond, Eugene, and Cleveland! Right now its 4:15 PM on Monday in Tokyo. We'll arrive back in Seattle at 9:15 AM on Monday morning.....that's what happens when you cross the international date line! I'll probably rest up the rest of the day and do laundry and be back in the office on Tuesday morning.
LAST DAY IN HONG KONG Added: 03-05-2005|
We had a great day in Guangzhou. We first visited a local kindergarten. The kids were great! We got to visit them in their classrooms and outside during their play time. I don't know who had a better time, them or us! We then took a stroll through the zoo to see the panda bear and all of the other animals. After lunch we drove on the new super highway to the fastest growing city in China, Shenzhen. Our first destination was WALMART! Lots of shopping was done by all! We then checked in at the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel right in the heart of the city. That evening was a free evening to relax or do more SHOPPING, Everyone enjoyed the dinner buffet in the hotel. Yesterday we visited the Folk Culture Village. We hired a tram and went all through the park stopping at several of the pavillions. After lunch we boarded our cross-border buses and returned to Hong Kong where we checked into the 5-star Hotel Nikko. Today we're having a free morning. This afternoon we're boarding our buses to go over to Hong Kong Island to visit Victoria Peak and Stanley Market before we have our farewell dinner at Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
MORNING IN GUANZHOU Added: 03-03-2005|
I just took an early morning stroll to the local coffee shop to use the internet to check my e-mail and update the website. It was very interesting to see a group of local senior citizens doing their tai chi in the park to Madonna music! We're getting readay to depart from the White Swan Hotel and do some more touring in Guanzhou before we head to Shenzhen.
HELLO FROM GUANGZHOU, CHINA Added: 03-03-2005|
Tonight I am in a "Blenz" coffee shop in the city that we in the west used to call "Canton". Guangzhou is now a huge city of over 10 million people. Yesterday we left Zhongshan and went to Foshan to visit the Ancestral Temple. While the group was finishing their tour of the temple I ran out to get some coconut tarts for the group to have on the bus. Somehow I got lost but eventually I caught up with the group! We then arrived in Guanghzhou and checked in to the fantastic White Swan Hotel. Today we had a city tour and in the evening we had a dinner cruise on the Pearl River. Tomorrow, after some more touring in Guangzhou, we're off to Shenzhen.
GREETINGS FROM ZHONGSHAN, CHINA Added: 03-01-2005|
Yesterday was a great day. We started off with a ride aboard a high speed "jet cat" across the South China Sea from Hong Kong to Macau. There we met our local guides, Maria and Mario and began our Macau tour. This is a fascinating city and a growing city. We then had a Portugese lunch at a local restaurant before we finished our tour and checked into the Grandeur Hotel. The Grandeur is a great hotel located right in the heart of the city. After some free time we had a Portugese dinner at the revolving restaurant atop the hotel. Today we left Macau and enjoyed all of the excitement of the border crossing from Macau to Mainland China. After crossing the border we met our Chinese tour guides, Simon and David and began our journey around the Pearl River Delta. We started with a huge Chinese lunch. We then visited the former residence of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the founder of modern-day China. Afterward we visited the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial High School. This is a boarding school where some of the brightest students from the region attend high school. Upon arrival we met a whole group of students who wanted to chat with us. We decided that rather than have our guides give us a tour of the campus we would ask some of the students to give us a tour. They were excited to do it so we broke up into small groups and had a super tour. This was also a unique experience for the group to meet the students and interact with them. The students really enjoyed the opportunity to practice their English....which was excellent. We then visited a "Farmer's Village". Many of the group brought candy to give to the children. By the time we left we had a trail of kids following us....even the adults were giving us big smiles! As the buses were pulling away many of the children were waving and shouting "good bye"! We then proceed to our hotel, the Zhongshan International. After some free time we had another spectacular dinner at the revolving restaurant, enjoying the views of the city.
A GREAT DAY IN HONG KONG! Added: 02-27-2005|
Today we had a half day tour of the Kowloon Penninsula. Our tour started out with a visit to the "Wong Tai Sin" Taoist temple. We were surprised with a downpouring of rain...between that and all of the burning insence it was quite an adventure! We then visited the "Bird Street" and the jade market. Tomrrow we're off to Macau and the next day we're off to Southern China...I'll keep you posted!
GREETINGS FROM HONG KONG! Added: 02-26-2005|
We arrived last night in Hong Kong. We're staying at the beautiful, 5-star Nikko Hotel. Today we did a Hong Kong Island tour including a san pan ride at Aberdeen and a visit to Repulse Bay. Tomorrow we're going to tour the Kowloon section of Hong Kong.
Be sure to check out the "upcoming tours" section of the website....I just added a bunch of new tours.
HELLO FROM TOKYO Added: 02-25-2005|
Well after I updated my website last night I went home for 2 hours of sleep and then I got up and packed and went to the airport for my flight to Tokyo. We have a layover here and then we'll fly on to Hong Kong! Actually, it was a very pleasant flight over here. I brought my laptop and wrote my new newsletter and I just e-mailed it in to the office. Kristi will proofread it in the morning and send it off to the printer. Hopefully it will be at the post office by Wednesday and in mailboxes by Friday and Monday. I'll update you on the tour tomorrow from Hong Kong.
JUST HOURS AWAY FROM LEAVING FOR HONG KONG Added: 02-24-2005|
Its 1:00 AM and I'm still here at the office doing all of my last minute "stuff" so I can leave town. Soon I'll be on my way to one of the most exciting cities in the world, Hong Kong! Our group will then visit Macau and Southern China. I'll have my laptop with me so I'll try to update every day and let you know how the tour is going! Tonight I added several new tours to the website including some "last minute bargains" on Holland America, some great land tours, and some great cruises for the fall....check them out and be the first to know!!
STILL HOME....GETTING READY TO LEAVE Added: 02-19-2005|
We've still been really busy here in the office. We're still taking bookings on our tours including the new tours that we haven't sent out in the mailer yet but people are hearing about. Be sure to check out the "Upcoming Trips" section of the website to see some of the new tours that we've added. Speaking of adding new tours, since I've been home for a while, I've put together some more new tours. We'll be putting the finishing touches on these tours in the next few days and then posting them on the website. Watch for the two new land tours that I've put together....In July I'll be going to the CALGARY STAMPEDE! I've always wanted to go there. We'll have reserved seats for the rodeo, grandstand show, and the Chuckwagen Races. We'll then do the Canadian Mountain Loop featuring a five hour excursion on the Alberta Prairie Railway in their vintage steam train. We'll visit Red Deer, Edmonton, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff. In September I will be going to Scotland and Ireland. Last years tour to England, Wales, and Ireland was such a huge success that I just had to go back and do the northern region...so, this year we'll start in Edinburgh and make our way through Scotland, Northern Ireland and down to Shannon. We'll also offer an optional extension for those of you who missed last year's tour and want to visit the Ring of Kerry and Dublin. Anyway, check back on the website in a few days and you can see all of the new tours. Right now I'm just putting together these new tours, putting the finishing touches on our upcoming tours and getting ready to leave for Hong Kong and Southern China on Thursday!
ENJOYING LIFE IN SEATTLE! Added: 02-13-2005|
Its been nice being home in Seattle. I'm able to do a lot of planning on both our existing tours and even some new ones. Check in a few days and I will have added our tour to Scotland and Ireland....just click on "Upcoming Trips". We are still getting calls on our West Coast cruise aboard the Norwegian Dream in May. Unfortunaltely, that one is sold out...we have 600 people traveling with us on that one. I do want to point out our cruise the end of August aboard the Celebrity Infinity. Yes, this cruise costs twice as much....but it is twice as long. And, as a bonus, this cruise has a fantastic itinerary. We've included the bus from Seattle to Vancouver. Then we have a full day in port in Victoria, BC, Gray's Harbor on the Washington Coast, Astoria on the Oregon Coast, and then to San Francisco. Actually, we arrive in San Francisco at noon on September 2nd but we don't disembark the ship until the following morning. This gives us the day and an overnight docked in San Francisco RIGHT IN THE HEART OF FISHERMAN'S WHARF!! Not to mention that this cruise is on one of the nicest ships out there....the Celebrity Infinity. The starting price is only $459 and this includes the bus to Vancouver, transfers in San Francisco, and the return flight from San Francisco to Seattle. Check it out!!
BACK IN THE OFFICE Added: 02-08-2005|
What a day....another busy day in the office! We're busy putting the finishing touches on our new mailer, getting it ready to go out next week. Please check our "upcoming trips" section of the website and get a head-start...before the mailer hits!!
HELLO FROM FORT LAUDERDALE Added: 02-06-2005|
Our computers have been out for a few days so I haven't been able to update the website. Its funny how dependent you can become on the computer and on e-mail. I've taken a few days off and came down to Florida....I'll be back in the office on Tuesday morning. Check the website in a few days...we're going to be adding even MORE new tours! By the way...through a but of a fluke, we have ONE OUTSIDE CABIN available on our Scandinavia and Russia cruise from June 1st to the 18th.....This is a huge bargain...especially since the cruise lines have really raised the prices for Europe this summer. Give us a call if you're interested.
ITS BACK TO THE OFFICE! Added: 01-30-2005|
After Ensenada we sailed back to Los Angeles. We had given everyone a choice on their return flight so some of the people flew home right away, some of the people did a Los Angeles city tour and then flew home, and some of the people did a tour of Universal Studios with lunch and then flew home....everyone had a good time! I was on the last flight home and then first thing on Saturday morning I was down at the Seattle Center for the Seattle Travel Show. We had a big booth there and the "Travel With Alan" booth was busy all day both yesterday and today! Tomorrow its back to the office to start planning even more new tours!
HOLA FROM ENSENADA Added: 01-27-2005|
We had a nice sailing overnight from CatAlina to Ensenada. The entertainment on the ship has been great. Last night we had a pair of comedians and the big "sock hop". Today we have a full day in Ensenada....we'll be back in time for our big "Travel With Alan" cocktail party. It will be nice to see all 156 of us in one room together!!
GREETINGS FROM CATELINA ISLAND Added: 01-26-2005|
We had a great 4 nights in Las Vegas. Everyone saw 3 shows including "Viva Las Vegas", "American Superstars" and the show that was a huge hit, "Forever Plaid". We also had a tour of the "Strip", a Hoover Dam tour and a Laughlin tour. We then traveled over to Los Angeles and boarded the "Monarch of the Seas". Yesterday we were in San Diego and today in Avalon on Catelina Island. I'll tell you more tomorrow when we're in Ensenada, Mexico!
VIVA LAS VEGAS! Added: 01-23-2005|
Right now I'm in Las Vegas with 156 people! We have three buses, each doing a different program each day...and I'm trying to be on all of them. Actually, its working out great. I have Kristi from the office down here helping out as well as my favorite local guide, Arnie. We've seen some great shows and eaten some great meals. Tomorrow its off to San Pedro, California to board Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas for a 4 day baja cruise.
A CRAZY LAST MINUTE RUSH! Added: 01-19-2005|
Today was a zoo again in the office! Kristi and I were working on all of the last minute preperations for our big group to tomorrow to Las Vegas and our cruise aboard the Monarch of the Seas. We have 160 people going so we'll be running all over Nevada! We also booked the last cabins today on our coastal cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver on May 16th. We have 600 people on that one....we'll take over the ship!! Take a look at the new Alaska cruises that we posted on the "upcoming trips" section of the website. We have a 10 and 11 day cruise going all the way up to Anchorage for only $699 plus the taxes and fees with a free upgrade to an outside cabin! Stay dry...see you soon!
STILL RECOVERING FROM THE CRUISE SHOW! Added: 01-17-2005|
Our cruise show on Saturday was a huge success. Everyone had a great time....especially the winner of our free cruise for two! We introduced six new tours on Saturday and they are now posted here on the website....just click on "Upcoming Trips". I want to thank all of you who came out to the show...and I'm sorry if I didn't have a chance to visit with you personally...it was very busy!
Tonight I'm putting all of the finishing touches on my upcoming tour to Las Vegas combined with a 4 day cruise aboard the Monarch of the Seas. I'll be leaving bright and early (well, at least early) on Thursday!
By the way, I will be excorting our group to Alaska aboard the new 'Norwegian Star' on July 3rd. This is a spectacular ship and a fantastic bargain....right in the middle of peak season. Since I will be escorting the tour, I will have my exclusive "Travel With Alan" shore excursions available....give us a call and save your spot!
GETTING READY FOR OUR BIG CRUISE SHOW Added: 01-14-2005|
Its 8:30 PM and I'm still in the office getting ready for our big cruise show tomorrow. Its been our busiest week ever....the phone just has not stopped! Just in the last week and a half we've signed up 470 people for our "$199 special" on the 3 day coastal cruise on the Norwegian Dream in May! We're going to take over the ship!
If you're not doing anything tomorrow (Saturday) and you're in the Seattle area, stop by the show. It will be at the Quality Inn in South Everett from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Its just minutes north of Seattle at the 128th Street exit, just off of I-5. We will have representatives from Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and more! There will be seminars throughout the day put on by the district managers from these lines. Also I will be having a talk about my tours from 1:10 to 1:40 PM. All of the cruise lines will be having several door prize drawings and we will have a drawing for a grand prize of a free 7 day cruise for 2 aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas!! Also, admission is FREE! I hope to see you there!
STILL BUSY! Added: 01-08-2005|
The phones haven't stopped yet! Its now 7:30 on Saturday night and I'm just leaving the office. Thank you all for being so patient...although I must say that we've been doing a great job between all of us keeping up with the phone calls! HOT FLASH.....We were just given 3 cabins on the Celebrity Constellation for our Scandinavia and Russia group from June 1st through June 18th. They are going to take them back on Monday....actually, I think they made a little mistake since they had raised the rates way up on that sailing and the ship is sold out...but on Friday they gave us 5 cabins at our original rate....which was a good deal then but a huge bargain now. Anyway, we have 3 left so if you would like to go on a great cruise on a spectacular ship and a fantastic price, call us on Monday and we'll put you on the list!
OUR BUSIEST DAY EVER! Added: 01-05-2005|
The phones have been ringing off the hook today. Between all of us chipping in we returned just about every call....but we stayed late! All of the new tours are still available but booking up quickly. Also, today we got out all of the documents for everyone going on the Las Vegas and cruise tour...those of you on the tour should get your packet in the next few days. Stay warm!
BUSY BUSY BUSY DAY IN THE OFFICE! Added: 01-04-2005|
Sorry I haven't added an entry in the last few days....its been a zoo here! Our new mailer started arriving at people's houses yesterday and the phones have been non-stop! A couple of the tours are just about sold out and probably will be by tomorrow so give us a call and we'll hold a spot for you! As I write we're still working on new tours. For all of you who are on our Las Vegas & cruise tour on January 20th, your itineraries and cruise documents are going out tomorrow....we've put together a great line-up of shows and tours. For those of you not on that tour, don't worry, we're already planning another one! We had room for 165 on this one but it still sold out in just a few days! Otherwise, all is well....stay tuned!
JUST GOT OUT THE NEW MAILER!! Added: 12-29-2004|
Its been real busy in the office since I got back. We just got our new mailer to the post office so you should be receiving it in the next few days! Inside the mailer there are 10 new tours including an incredible "last minute bargain" on the Legend of the Seas trans-Atlantic cruise in April.....only $999 including air to Miami and from Lisbon, Portugal. I even included a one night post-cruise package with a tour, dinner, and breakfast in Lisbon! Please see the flyer for all of the details. Its kind of nice....I'll be home for New Year's Eve for the first time in a long time. Tonight I'm headed to Mom and Dad's for dinner....it will be nice to have a good home cooked meal!!
LAST DAY IN NEW ORLEANS Added: 12-27-2004|
I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I had a white Christmas in New Orleans....their first one in 50 years! It was cold but I had a great time anyway! Today I had some meetings with some local hotels preparing for the four groups that I have coming here in April. I'm flying home this afternoon and then I'll be home for three whole weeks!
GREETINGS FROM NEW ORLEANS! Added: 12-23-2004|
I'm back on the road again. I am here in New Orleans with my Christmas and New Year's cruise group. This evening we checked into our hotel, the Crowne Plaza Astor. This hotel is great. It's located right on the corner of Canal Street and Bourbon Street...right in the French Quarter. Even though its really cold here everyone is out exploring Bourbon Street! Tomorrow I'll go with the group to the pier and get them checked in. I will then stay two more days in New Orleans. I have three groups coming to New Orleans in April so this will give me a chance to "scout things out". Then I'll return to Seattle to get ready for our Carlson Wagonlit Cruise Show on January 15th....save the date! I just e-mailed our printer with the new newsletter to in about a week you'll be receiving a whole packet from us with all of the latest tours and all of the information about the Travel Show.
STILL HOME....CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Added: 12-20-2004|
Well I'm still here working away at the office. Actually, its nice to be home and catch up with my family and friends! Friday night we had our big office party. It was great to get together with everyone from all six of our offices....there were over 75 people at the party! Saturday I drove up to White Rock, BC and spent the evening with Steve and Joanne....my Vancouver police friends. Many of you have met Steve and/or Joanne when they were helping me out on previous tours. They wanted to wish everyone "Happy Holidays". They are the proud parents of Georgia who is now eleven weeks old! We're still putting together some new tours including two new tours to Branson and one to the East Coast for the fall foliage....so watch your mailbox!
STILL IN THE OFFICE! Added: 12-18-2004|
I know that I haven't added an entry in the last few days. There hasn't been too much to report. It's been very busy here in the office and we've sold out just about everything! I have put together a bunch of new tours and we're just getting ready to get another mailer out. I'll give you a sneak peak at a couple of the new tours....We're going to do a 3 day cruise up the West Coast from May 16 - 19 aboard the Norwegian Dream. The total cost for the cruise is only $298. This price includes the air, transfers, and even the port charges and taxes. This is unbelievable. Even though we have room for 400 people on this cruise, it will sell out fast! Oh, by the way, this price is for an OUTSIDE STATEROOM! The other one that will be really big is our fall trip to New England. This will be a bus tour through the Northeast to see the fall foliage. Watch for the mailers!
BACK IN THE OFFICE Added: 12-11-2004|
After we left Branson we went to Carthage, Missouri. Here we toured the famous Precious Moments Chapel and Inspiration Park. This complex was created by Samuel Butcher, the creator of the Precious Moments figurines. Afterwards we went to our hotel in Joplin where all of the luggage was already waiting in the rooms. We then met in the lobby for "happy hour". At the Drury Inn they have complimentary cocktails and snacks for all of their guests. It got so busy that Dan and I soon became "guest bartenders". Needless to say, everyone was quite happy! We then went back to downtown Carthage where we had an Italian dinner followed by a private performance by a local bluegrass band called "No Particular Reason". The "performance hall" was in a place called The Woodshed which is actually the back room of an antique shop! Anyway, we had so much fun that some thought it was better than any of the shows in Branson. On Tuesday we went back to Carthage for a tour of the town and the historic Jasper County Courthouse. We then made our way back to Kansas City stoping for our farewell luncheon, some more famous Kansas City barbeque!
Now I'm back in the office planning a bunch of new tours for next year....we've got some good ones coming up. By the way, if you were thinking at all about our cruise to Scandinavia and Russia, give me a call. We already have over 60 people going and we have room for 18 more...but, Celebrity is going to recall all of our unused cabins next week. The ship is SOLD OUT! The prices for all European cruises for this coming summer have gone through the roof...but we were "locked in". If you ever thought about doing a Scandinavia and Russia cruise, this is your perfect opportunity.
LAST NIGHT IN BRANSON Added: 12-05-2004|
Today was yet ANOTHER full day in Branson! We started off this morning going to the Delena Ditto Show at the Mickey Gilley Theatre. It was a great energy-filled show. We then went to the Welk Resort for lunch at the Stage Door Canteen. We then saw one of the last shows of the "Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show" featuring the Lennon Sisters along with Joanne Castle, Jack Immel, Ralna English and a huge cast. After some free time at the hotel we went for dinner at McGuffey's Restaurant followed by the biggest ticket in town, the Shoji Tabuchi Show. As always this was a huge show filled with great music and lots of special effects. We're now back at the hotel getting ready for our departure from Branson in the morning. Tomorrow is another FULL day!
ANOTHER FULL DAY IN BRANSON! Added: 12-04-2004|
Today we had a very full day. We started off this morning with a tour of the College of the Ozarks. This is a very interesting college where the students work for their education. Every student has an on-campus job either helping with the running of the college or working in one of the school's cottage industries. We then went to the Showboat Branson Belle where we had a great lunch and show. We then went to Silver Dollar City where we rode the rides and saw some great Christmas shows...including a big Christmas Parade. We finished off the day by doing the drive through the Branson Area Festival of Lights. This light display is one of the best in the country...it truly was spectacular. Now we're back at the hotel getting ready for another full day tomorrow!
HELLO FROM BRANSON! Added: 12-03-2004|
Yesterday was a great day! We left Kansas City and went to Independance and visited the Truman Home and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. We then had dinner at Hemmingway's Blue Water Cafe in Springfield located inside the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World. We then made our way here to Branson where we checked into our hotel. Today was a big day....we saw two great shows in Branson and had some great meals. We started this morning by seeing the Doug Gabriel Show. We then had a great lunch at the Lone Star Steakhouse. After lunch we went to "Ride the Ducks" and had a tour of Branson by land and water. After some free time at the hotel we went to the Dinner Bell Restaurant. During dinner we were entertained by Kenny Parrot....one of Branson's best musicians. After dinner we went to the Moon River Theatre where we saw Andy William's Christmas show....spectacular!! We're now resting up back at the hotel for our big day tomorrow!!
GREETINGS FROM KANSAS CITY Added: 12-02-2004|
I am writing to you this morning from the beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. We left on Tuesday morning to fly here. That evening we had a great barbeque dinner at KC Masterpiece Restaurant. Yesterday we had a city tour and another great Kansas City Barbeque lunch. Last night it was off to the New Theatre Restaurant for a great dinner and a great play...The Foreigner starring Richard Klein. Today its off to Branson!
GETTING READY TO GO! Added: 11-28-2004|
I had a great weekend and got to visit with family and friends. Tomorrow I'll have one day in the office to put the finishing touches on a couple of new tours that I've been working on. Then, on Tuesday morning, I'm off to Branson! We have a full tour and we'll be visiting Kansas City, Branson, Carthage, and points in between. If you missed out on this tour don't worry....we'll be going back to Branson in the spring!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Added: 11-25-2004|
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I love Thanksgiving as it gives all of us a chance to reflect over the past year and think of all of the things that we're thankful for. I have some many things to be thankful for....for being an American, for good health, for a good job...the list could go on and on. But...the things that I am the most thankful for are my family and friends. Thankfully my job has introduced me to so many of you so my circle of family and friends has just grown that much larger. Travel can be a very enriching experience. I truly enjoy my international tours but they also show me how good we have it here in the United States....there's no place like home!
I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving. I hope that by the next Thanksgiving we all have at least as much to be thankful for!
HOME SWEET HOME! Added: 11-23-2004|
Its been nice being home and sleeping in my own bed! We've been really busy here at the office firming up everything for our upcoming tours and planning some new ones! We've signed up over 200 people for our cruise on the Voyager of the Seas in May.....this was a huge bargain! If you are insterested, we still have some inside cabins and some Royal Promenade view cabins left but Royal Caribbean just notified us that the ship is full and that they are taking back any remaining inventory on Tuesday....so, if you or any of your friends are interested, please have them call me or Kathy right away!
TWO GREAT DAYS AT SEA! Added: 11-20-2004|
Yesterday and today have been two great days at sea. John Maxtone-Graham's talks about cruise liners of the past and present have been great. We couldn't ask for better weather! Everyone is just having a great time! Tomorrow morning we dock in Ft. Lauderdale and then its back to reality! It will be nice to finally be home for Thanksgiving this year....I hope my family remembers me!!
ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN SUNNY ST. THOMAS! Added: 11-18-2004|
We have been very lucky with the weather this cruise! Yesterday was a perfect day in St. Maarten. I went over to the French side of the island to Marigot. I had a nice walk around there with Mom and Dad! After lunch on the ship my Dad and I went into Phillipsburg and took a walk around. Now we are in our last port of call, St. Thomas. The weather is beautiful again....its going to be hard going back to Seattle. Anyway, we have two more days at sea before we land in Ft. Lauderdale and fly home.
OUR LAST DAY OF THE CROSSING Added: 11-16-2004|
In the middle of the cruise we have five days at sea crossing the Atlantic. Five days seemed like a long time but here we are on the last night of the crossing and everyone feels that it went by so quickly! Tomorrow we'll be in St. Maarten....the Caribbean island thats half Dutch and half French...and the weather report looks great!
CALM SEAS AND WARM WEATHER! Added: 11-14-2004|
Everyone has really been enjoying our days at sea. The weather has been great and the seas have been calm. This ship is beautiful! The meals and service have been great...of course, you always expect that with Celebrity. In addition the daily activities have been fun and intersting including the daily lectures by John Maxton-Graham, the famous cruise-ship historian. Friday night we had a big cocktail party and got the whole group together. This morning I gave a presentation about all of our upcoming tours. I've been using some of my free time during the crossing to work on even more new tours....stay tuned!
A DAY IN FUNCHAL, MADEIRA! Added: 11-12-2004|
Yesterday was a fantastic day. We had perfect weather in Funchal. We had our own tour which started off with one of Funchal's most famous attractions, the toboggan ride down the hills of Funchal. This is quite an experience, especially since there is active traffic on the streets as everyone was going down the hills! We also visited the botanical gardens, the public market, and a Madeira wine lodge. We had a free afternoon in town after the tour. Now today we're having the first of five days at sea. Hopefully the nice weather and calm seas will follow us all the way across to the Caribbean.
A RELAXING DAY AT SEA ABOARD THE SPECTACULAR CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM Added: 11-10-2004|
Today we were at sea all day. It gave everyone a chance to explore this beautiful ship. Celebrity really is a class act. Some of the people enjoyed the incredible spa facilities here aboard the ship, some took computer classes, and some went to some of the lectures. Famous cruise ship historian, John Maxtone-Graham is aboard and his lectures are always great. He made the PBS series called "The Only Way to Cross". Of course, others just enjoyed the relaxing day at sea. Tomorrow we'll be in one of the most beautiful islands in the world, Madiera!
A GREAT DAY IN GIBRALTAR! Added: 11-09-2004|
We arrived early this morning in Gibraltar. The day was a big on the cool side in the morning but by mid-day the sun came out and made it a nice warm day. We had a tour with the group this morning and saw all of Gibraltar. We went to the Spanish border as well as up the rock to the Cave of St. Michaels and the ape den. We had a bit of a scare....one of the ladies in our group had her shopping bag snatched by one of the apes! We did manage to get it back....eventually! We had some free time in town before we returned to the ship. Gibraltar is an interesting city with a fascinating history. A lot of the people went back into town after lunch for the duty free shopping. Tonight we had a great dinner and show aboard the ship. Tomorrow will be a relaxing day at sea, especially since we'll turn back our clocks one hour tonight.
SAILING FROM BARCELONA TO GIBRALTAR Added: 11-08-2004|
I had a great flight on SAS to Copenhagen and onto Barcelona. We got out of the airport right away and before we knew it we were at our hotel, The Gran Catelonia....a fantastic hotel right at Plaza Espana. That evening we all went out for a seafood feast on the waterfront....dinner lasted 3 1/2 hours because everyone was having so much fun...and the wine just kept flowing! Yesterday we had a great city tour and ended up at the pier and boarded the Celebrity Millennium. The Millennium is the first in the line of 'Millennium Class' ships and she is an absolute beauty. We've been at sea all day today. Tomorrow its Gibraltar!!
OFF TO THE AIRPORT Added: 11-05-2004|
Its Friday and I've been at the office since early this morning. Now I'm going to run home and pack and get to the airport to check in my group for our evening flight to Copenhagen and onward to Barcelona. My parents actually left yesterday with part of the group and they are now checked in at the hotel. I'm flying this evening with the rest of the group and tomorrow night we'll all meet up for a big seafood dinner on the Barcelona waterfront. On Sunday we'll board the Celebrity Millennium for our European and Caribbean trans-Atlantic cruise. I'll keep you updated as we're in the different ports and even as we're crossing the ocean
HOME SWEET HOME (BRIEFLY!) Added: 11-03-2004|
I got home on Monday evening and since then I've been here in the office. Our new mailer just hit today so I'm trying to help answer all of the phone calls. My next big group starts tomorrow. My parents, Irwin and Babette, are going to fly tomorrow with part of the group from Seattle to Barcelona. I will follow on Friday with the rest of the group. On Sunday we'll all board the Celebrity Millennium for our European and Caribbean trans-Atlantic cruise.
HOLA FROM COZUMEL, MEXICO! Added: 10-30-2004|
Since we left Aruba we had two great days at sea...and the good weather is still with us! Everyone enjoyed the sea days and took advantage of all of the programs, lectures, and activities on board the ship...as well as taking time to work on the tan! Today we're in Cozumel. The weather is perfect! I'm off to the beach myself!!
BON BINI FROM ARUBA! Added: 10-27-2004|
Yesterday we visited the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic. The weather has been with us so it made for a great day. Some of the group explored the marina and resort area while others went on a 4 x 4 adventure tour. Others just wandered down to the beach. After we returned to the ship we all gathered in the Stratosphere Nightclub aboard the ship for a cocktail party. With a group of 194 we went through a lot of cocktails! It was great to get the whole group together and the room was a perfect place to be for the sail-away from Casa del Campo! Today we arrived in Aruba. Again the weather is beautiful here. Everyone is out on tours or at the beach. We'll be in port until 1 AM. Today we're docked right next to the Voyager of the Seas. This is the ship that I'll be going on in May....she is a beautiful ship also!
ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY HERE IN SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO! Added: 10-25-2004|
This morning we arrived early in the morning in San Juan. The fun thing about doing a "back to back" cruise is that the middle of our cruise is actually the beginning and the ending of most of the passengers' cruises. While everyone else was busy packing their bags and putting them out in the hallway and running around, we were just sitting back and watching the show! Oh well, we'll get our turn next week!
The weather has been beautiful here in San Juan. There is a bit of overcast so its not too hot. I got to walk around a bit but I will admit that I've spend a good part of the day in an internet cafe....I've got to update the website sometime! Tonight we'll have a late evening sail-away while we're enjoying a Caribbean buffet on the top deck!
HELLO FROM ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS! Added: 10-24-2004|
Its a beautiful day here in St. Thomas! Yesterday we spent the full day in St. Maarten. While it did rain in the morning we had a beautiful afternoon. I got out for a few hours and did a little shopping in town! Today we arrived early in the morning in St. Thomas. The weather has been beautiful all day with the exception of a five minute shower. Five minutes later there wasn't a cloud in the sky! I went snorkeling over at Koki Beach....what a treat...I saw "a million" fish in the bay! Since I hadn't done a tour of the island in a long time, I hired a taxi with my cousins, Richard and Norene, who are helping me here with the group, and we drove around the island. It was a beautiful day. For most of the passengers on the ship, tonight is the last night of the cruise but for my group, since we are doing a "back to back" cruise, we have another week onboard so we can have a nice evening on the ship and get ready for a full day in San Juan tomorrow.
My new tour is all ready now and is posted on the "Upcoming Trips" part of the website. Check it out....my cruise aboard the Voyager of the Seas is the deal of the year. I went on this ship for the first time last month and I didn't expect to like the ship at all....I thought it was too big...but it was FANTASTIC. I had a group of 132 passengers and everyone loved the ship....especially the entertainment including the spectacular ice show featuring world skating champions. Take a look....this will go fast!
TWO RESTFUL DAYS AT SEA!!! Added: 10-22-2004|
We're on our second of two days at sea to enjoy this beautiful ship, the Celebrity Galaxy! The cruise staff is fantastic and there is a full agenda of activities, lectures, and classes aboard the ship...I've even taken a computer class! I've gotten a lot of work done also. The new tour that I told you about a couple of days ago should be all wrapped up by the end of the day. Check back tomorrow....this will be a huge blockbuster.....probably the biggest bargain of the year! Of course there are many on the ship that are just taking advantage of the sunny weather and taking it easy....that's the beauty of cruising...you do as much or as little as you want to! Starting tomorrow we have three days in a row in port....St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico.
GREAT DAY IN CHARLESTON Added: 10-20-2004|
Once again, the weatherman was wrong....thankfully! We had a great day today in Charleston. What a beautiful city...lots of historic homes and sites. This was my first time in Charleston but it won't be my last! Even though storms were forecast, the weather was nothing less than perfect! I got of work done today and I put together one of the best deals on a cruise that I have seen in the 23 years that I've been in the travel business. Check back in a couple of days....I still need to wrap up some of the details...but, save the dates: May 6 - 15!
SAILING TO CHARLESTON Added: 10-19-2004|
Well I made it to the airport for my early morning flight and arrived in Baltimore. I got my group checked in at the BWI Airport Marriott Hotel, went up to my room to wash up for a minute and went right back to the airport to pick up the second group. Once I got them back to the hotel I had about an hour before I went back to the airport to pick up the third group. By later in the evening we had the whole group at the hotel. Yesterday morning we had a huge breakfast at the hotel before we boarded our coaches and made our way to the pier. We then checked in for our cruise and boarded the beautiful Celebrity Galaxy! The staff were all lined up to greet us as we boarded the ship and waiters were there with trays full of champagne! The ship is beautiful! My cousins, Norene and Richard have been busy helping me run around the ship and help get everyone settled in. Today has been a restful day at sea as we're getting ready for the "Captain's Dinner" this evening!
LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS Added: 10-16-2004|
Its hard to believe that I've been home for only 48 hours! I'm still thinking back to the great time we had in Ireland....and England and Wales. We had a truly super group which made it really easy to handle a large group like this. Actually, there were five of us with the group at all times. Besides myself, Dan Loeben came along to assist me. Dan and I switched buses every day. We also had two super driver/guides in Ireland, Gary and D.B. In addition we had Shaun Rogers from Ireland who was looking after all of our arrangements and made sure that everything was well organized. Now I'm at the office putting together all of the last minute details for my group in the morning. I will fly out with the first group at 6:30 in the morning. My cousins, Richard and Norene, will follow with two more groups. In total there will be 196 of us sailing through the Caribbean for two weeks! I'll keep you posted!
BACK TO SEATTLE Added: 10-13-2004|
Yesterday was a great day. We climbed Blarney Castle and most of the group did kiss the stone! We had a scenic drive through the rolling green hills of Ireland before we made our way back to the Dublin area where we spent our last night at the Marriott and had a super farewell dinner. Today we're flying back to the U.S.A.! I'll have two days back in the office to put together some new tours so check the website!
RING OF KERRY Added: 10-12-2004|
Someone in my group was telling me that they had bought a book that had a list of the 1000 things that you had to do before you die. One of them is to drive the Ring of Kerry....and I can see why! We had a beautiful day. I was a bit worried this morning when we started to drive the Ring because it was very foggy out. The fog soon lifted and we had the most remarkable day. The scenery of the ocean and the lakes was spectacular. One of the locals in a shop was saying that this was the nicest day she had seen there all year! We also saw a sheep dog demonstration....those dogs are amazing! This evening we returned to the hotel for another super diner. Tomorrow its off to Blarney Castle where as one of our guides put it, we can have a romantic encounter with a rock!
HELLO FROM KILLARNEY Added: 10-11-2004|
Yesterday we drove to Hwnnigan's Farm and Heritage Center and got to learn all about life in Ireland back to the famine years. We then continued south to Ennis enjoying all of the beautiful scenery. After a fantastic dinner in the hotel most of us gathered in the hotel bar for a traditional Irish music session. Today we drove to Bunratty Castle and had the full tour there. After some free time in the town of Adare we came to Killarney where we had some free time before dinner. Tomorrow its off to the Ring of Kerry!
A FANTASTIC DAY OF SCENERY AND IRISH MUSIC Added: 10-09-2004|
What a great day today was! We started off in the morning and had a beautiful ride through the Irish countryside. We visited a national park and an old castle. We then went to Leo's Tavern. Leo is "Anya's" father...the world famous recording star. We had a great lunch and a "pint" and then had a great music session! This evening we returned to the hotel for another fantastic "silver service" dinner. Tomorrow we're headed south to Ennis.
GREETINGS FROM DONNEGAL, IRELAND! Added: 10-08-2004|
What beautiful country! Last night we had a great Irish dinner in the Temple Bar district in Dublin. Today we left Dublin and drove into Northern Ireland. We visited the Beleek Porcelain Factory and then came here to Donnegal where we saw a demonstration of weaving Donnegal tweed. Tonight we're going into the county for our overnight and a dinner with an Irish music session!
GREETINGS FROM DUBLIN! Added: 10-07-2004|
The day before yesterday we left London and began our tour to the north. We had a tour of Oxford and had a walking tour through this very interesting university town. We even got to see where some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed! We then continued north to Woodstock and Broadway before heading up to Wales where we spent the night. Yesterday we boarded a ferry and came across to Dublin where we checked into the Burlington Hotel. The Burlington is the largest hotel in Ireland and it is wonderful...with a great location too! Today we are in the middle of our city tour and tonight we are going out to the Temple Bar district for a great Irish dinner with some Irish entertainment! I have just finished all of the details on our "Tulips and Windmills" river cruise for March 25th to April 4th. Give the office a call and they can send you the new flyer!
HELLO FROM JOLLY OLD LONDON! Added: 10-04-2004|
Since I wrote last I have flown from Seattle to London. Our group was met at Heathrow Airport and transfered to the Regent Hotel. The hotel is great and has a fantastic location! Last night we had a huge buffet dinner at the hotel. Today we did a full day of London sightseeing including Buckingham Palace, Kennsington, and the Tower of London. Our visit to Buckingham Palace was cut short when we ran into a downpour of rain. After that the sun came out and the rest of the day we had beautiful weather! This evening we had an "English Pub Dinner" at the hotel. Tomorrow we head off to the north.
SAILING TOWARD NEW YORK Added: 09-29-2004|
Yesterday we had a fantastic day in Halifax! The weather was great and everyone was very happy to finally be able to go ashore! We had a super tour. Since I was just here two weeks ago I had lined up a fantastic tour with the same guides we had last time. We toured the city and then went out to Peggy's Cove. Here we had a great fresh lobster lunch. Now we're sailing back to New York. We'll pass by the Statue of Liberty at about 5:15 AM. Then we have a New York City tour with lunch at Macy's before we fly home.
SAILING TO HALIFAX Added: 09-27-2004|
Things are much calmer now aboard the ship. Our storm the other day caused a lot of damage on the ship. Lots of broken dishes, glasses, and even some of the etched glass doors. The crew has been working around the clock to get everything back to normal. Today the sun is shining as we're making our way to Halifax. We had to miss our port call in St. John's, Newfoundland so the ship is giving all of us a free shore excursion in Halifax. Hopefully the good weather will continue through tomorrow for our tours!
A PERFECT STORM! Added: 09-25-2004|
Last night we had a real adventure. The seas were already pretty rough and this caused our fuel filters to clog which made the entire ship lose power. We were really being bounced around...even dinner and the show were cancelled. By later in the evening everything was back to normal and we had dinner and a movie! Today the seas are calm and the skies are sunny....what a difference a day makes!
ON THE EDGE OF HURRICANE KARL Added: 09-24-2004|
Hello from the middle of the Atlantic! Today we are getting a bit of bounce on the ship from "Karl". Although the storm is 350 miles away from us, we're still getting some of the effect. Everyone is having a good time....and we're told that by tonight we should be in calmer seas!
HELLO FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! Added: 09-23-2004|
Today is a restful day at sea. We began our trek across the Atlantic yesterday. By afternoon the seas were a bit rough but by late at night they quieted down. Today we have perfect seas and everyone is enjoying all of the activities aboard the ship. Tonight we're having a cocktail party in the Explorer's Lounge here aboard the ship. It will be great to get the whole group together...all 95 of us!
BEGINNING OUR TREK ACROSS THE ATLANTIC Added: 09-21-2004|
Today we had a fantastic day. We docked in Belfast this morning. From there we did an all day tour up the Antrium Coast to Giant's Causeway. Afterward we drove to Bushmill for a huge lunch and then we topped off the day with a tour of the Old Bushmills Distiliary....with samples, of course! We're back aboard the Rotterdam now and we're beginning our four day crossing to Newfoundland!
A GREAT DAY IN DUBLIN Added: 09-20-2004|
Today was a fantastic day! We arrived this morning in Dublin. After the ship was cleared we boarded our coaches and left the city into the mountains. The green rolling hills if the Irish countryside were beautiful. We stopped for lunch at Ireland's highest pub....Johnny Fox's. Here we had a great Irish lunch including an Irish music session....the whole group really got into it! We then continued into the center of Dublin where we had a great sightseeing tour including time for shopping!! Tonight we're all back here on the ship sailing toward our next port of call, Belfast. This will be my first time in Belfast so I'm very excited....I'll give you the full report tomorrow night!
GREETINGS FROM IRELAND! Added: 09-19-2004|
Today we had a great day in Cobh, Ireland. We had a tour with our group to Cork and to Blarney Castle. I hiked up the castle tower with most of the group and watched everyone leaning over backward to kiss the Blarney Stone! Cobh is a beautiful town with very colorful buildings. We're back on the ship now and sailing towards Dublin.
AN UNEXPECTED DAY AT SEA Added: 09-18-2004|
Today we were supposed to be in Plymouth, England but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate. Tonight we're sailing on to Cobh, Ireland where we'll dock tomorrow morning. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to write tomorrow....especially after I kiss the Blarney Stone!
HELLO FROM GUERNSEY IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS, U.K. Added: 09-17-2004|
Sorry its been so long since I updated "Where's Alan". On Monday, September 13th I flew from Seattle to London and arrived there on the 14th. We then transfered to Harwich where we boarded Holland America Line's ms Rotterdam. We then sailed overnight to Rotterdam where we had a great city tour including a visit to Delft. That evening we set sail and woke up on Wednesday morning in Le Havre, France. Here we did a full day tour to Normandy including many of the World War II landing beaches. Now today we are in Guernsey. This is a beautiful little island. Actually, this is my first time here. I know that everyone thinks that I've been everywhere but the truth is that I've been to a lot of the same places over and over....so its nice when I get to go somewhere new! I'll update you tomorrow on our visit to Plymouth, England...my first time there also!
GETTING READY TO GO.....AGAIN! Added: 09-12-2004|
Its Sunday and I'm here at the office putting some finishing touches on the next couple of tours. Thanks to the great staff here at the office, everything is pretty well done so I'm also putting the finishing touches on a couple of new tours that will be coming out in the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow morning I'm off to London. When we arrive in London we'll transfer to Dover where we'll board Holland America's Rotterdam for our cruise to Rotterdam, Holland and Le Havre, France before we cruise through the British Isles and across the Atlantic. We have another big group but I'm rested and ready!
DAY AT SEA! Added: 09-09-2004|
Its our last night on the cruise. The Voyager of the Seas has been a big hit with the group. In the morning we'll head to the Cotton Club for our "gospel brunch" before we fly home. I'll be back in the office on Saturday and then Monday its off to London!
SAILING BACK TO THE BIG APPLE Added: 09-08-2004|
Today was an amazing day. We arrived this morning in Halifax and had a great tour of the city and Peggy's Cove....We had a great fresh lobster lunch there! This evening, back on the ship, the group went to see "Ice Jammin"...the first ice show ever on a cruise ship. This show was the quality of show that you would expect in Las Vegas. The show features world champion ice skaters in an incredible review show. Honestly, I forgot I was on a ship! I'm sure I'll be doing a lot more on these Voyager class ships that Royal Caribbean has!
HELLO FROM SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA , eh? Added: 09-07-2004|
Its a beautiful day in Saint John! The temperature is a bit brisk but pleasant. We had a great city tour today including the "reversing rapids". I love this ship...the Voyager of the Seas. When you first walk into the ship you feel like you're in a fancy mall! Everything has been excellent. The music and entertainment options are out of this world. Last night we saw "The Drifters"...one of the best shows I've ever seen on a cruise ship. Tomorrow we're going to the ice show. Tonight its a big cocktail party for the whole group! Tomorrow during the day we're doing a tour of Halifax and then we're off to Peggy's Cove for a fresh lobster lunch!
HELLO FROM THE BEAUTIFUL VOYAGER OF THE SEAS! Added: 09-06-2004|
Wow...what a busy few days I've had! The Norwegian Spirit docked in Seattle on Saturday morning. I said good bye to my group and went straight to Sea-Tac and flew to Newark. We spent the night and had a great tour of Manhattan yesterday. Then we came to Port Liberty and we're now cruising to Eastern Canada. This is another big group....there's 132 of us! This ship is huge and also beautiful. The cruise is only 5 days and I'm sure that by the end I still won't know my way around! Just a reminder....If you haven't already done so, please be sure to click on "Join our mailing list" and enter your e-mail address. Also, if you have friends that want to be on our mailing list or e-mail list, have them log on and enter their information. I'll update again tomorrow from Saint John, New Brunswick!
HELLO FROM PRINCE RUPERT! Added: 09-02-2004|
Our last two ports in Alaska were fantastic! We had great weather and great tours in both Juneau and Skagway! Last night we had a great cocktail party on the ship. It was great to get everyone together...all 138 of us! Now we're headed south. We had a nice day in Prince Rupert although it seems to be getting a little cooler. Tomorrow we have a day at sea before we return to Seattle.
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY ALASKA Added: 09-01-2004|
Once again, we've been lucking out on the weather up here! We had a great tour yesterday in Ketchikan and today in Juneau. We had a great evening visiting Sawyer Glacier. Our captain was able to get us right up to the face of the glacier. Tomorrow we'll spend the full day in Skagway. I've been on the e-mail a good part of the day. I've been putting the finishing touches on our tour to Belgium and Holland for next spring during tulip season. If you're not already on the "advance list" for this tour, give Naomi at our office a call and get on the list...you'll be the first to know!
NORTH TO ALASKA.....AGAIN! Added: 08-30-2004|
Greetings from the Norwegian Spirit. We left Seattle yesterday and we're off to our 49th state, Alaska! This ship is beautiful. It was built for "freestyle cruising" and I love it! We'll wake up in the morning in Ketchikan where we have a special excursion planned for the group. I'm hopeful that the weather will be as great as its been for the last three Alaska cruises that I've been on this summer....I'll let you know!
GETTING READY TO GO! Added: 08-27-2004|
I'm working late here at the office putting all of the finishing touches on the next two tours! Tomorrow I will sail right out of Pier 66 aboard the Norwegian Spirit to Alaska. When I get back on Saturday I'll go straight to the airport and fly to Newark to board Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas for a cruise to Eastern Canada. These are both big groups...138 and 132....so I'll take my vitamins!
48 HOURS IN SEATTLE! Added: 08-26-2004|
I just returned home from my tour with the Kay Ying Association. The tour was 5 nights/6 days. We spent one night at Bryce Canyon, one night at Zion National Park, and the last 3 nights in Las Vegas. It was a great tour....and like I told you a few days ago, the scenery at Bryce and Zion was incredible! I even made a few bucks in Vegas! Tomorrow I will be putting the finishing touches on a new tour....so, check the website next week! I'll also be getting everything ready for my cruise to Alaska on Saturday....We have 138 people going so there's lots of details to look after. I'll be cruising on the Norwegian Spirit. This will be my first time on the ship so I'll be sure to fill you in!
HELLO FROM SUNNY LAUGHLIN NEVADA! Added: 08-24-2004|
Today I am in Laughlin, Nevada with one of my private groups. By the way, if you have a group of 40 or more I am happy to arrange a private tour for your group....put together to your specifications!
I just had a spectacular visit to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. This tour has been so good that I'm sure I'll offer it in one of my upcoming mailers. The natural beauty of the rock formations in these parks is beyond description!
Tomorrow we'll be seeing 2 great shows in Las Vegas!
BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL! Added: 08-20-2004|
In eight hours I will be on my flight to Las Vegas and beginning my tour to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I'm still finishing up some last minute things here at the office and then I'll head home to pack! Bill, Kathy and Peggy will be at the office ready to help you. I'll be back in the office on Friday but I'll leave again on Saturday!
GETTING READY TO GO! Added: 08-19-2004|
In less than 48 hours I'll be on the road again! I'm just getting ready...both at the office and at home. Our new mailer just went out with 9 new tours....watch your mailbox! I have scheduled new tours that go through August of 2005. I've got to say that there are some great ones....and, of course, great deals!!
I was just able to secure some space on a great "fall foliage" tour through New England departing from Boston on October 7th...in the heart of the fall foliage season. The price is only $1799 including all taxes and air from Seattle....call for prices from other cities. This tour visits Boston, Sturbridge, Stockbridge, Stratton, Woodstock, and North Conway. It is a very inclusive tour with most sightseeing and meals included....and in the heart of the season. Give Kathy in my office a call and reserve your spot. She can also send you a day by day itinerary! Her number is 425-775-1595 or 1-800-622-3342.
STILL HOME!!! Added: 08-17-2004|
I've been home over a week now....its kind of nice! We've been really busy here in the office...we finally got our new mailer out...watch for it soon! Also, we're still booking people for the trans-Atlantic cruise on the Celebrity Millennium in November and the Hong Kong/China tour in February. Also I've been doing all of the final preparations for all of the upcoming tours. I leave on Saturday and then its one right after the other!! If you haven't already tegistered your e-mail address, click on "Join Our Mailing List" and add your e-mail address. This way you'll be able to receive some special offers and "last minute deals".
BACK IN THE OFFICE!! Added: 08-12-2004|
Well, I'm finally back in sunny Seattle! Since I've been home I am putting the finishing touches on a whole bunch of new tours and getting them ready for our new mailer....watch your mailbox!
HELLO FROM SUNNY ANCHORAGE! Added: 08-08-2004|
The weather is still beyond belief! Today we had a free morning in Denali National Park before we boarded the train for our ride to Anchorage aboard the McKinley Explorer Railcars. We're now checked in at the hotel and its still sunny out at 10:15 PM! Tomorrow we get to sleep in before we have our city tour and our evening flight back to Seattle
HI...FROM SUNNY FAIRBANKS Added: 08-07-2004|
The weather here is unbelievable! It was over 80 degrees today. We had a super tour to the Gold Dredge #8, a city tour, and a cruise on the mv Discovery III on the Chena River. This is just a super tour...and an excellent value....look for this next year!
MOOSE ON THE RIGHT! Added: 08-05-2004|
Today we had a great drive from Beaver Creek up to Fairbanks. We even had a stop in North Pole, Alaska to see Santa! We saw 7 moose during the drive. Tonight we're at the beautiful Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks. Right now its 9:40 PM and its HOT and sunny!
GREETINGS FROM THE YUKON TERRITORY Added: 08-04-2004|
Good morning! Today I'm in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Yesterday we got off of the Zaandam in Skagway. We took a short city tour and then had some free time in the city. We then boarded the Whitehorse and Yukon Railway and came across White Pass to Frasier. We then boarded our coach and made our way to Whitehorse. The scenery was fantastic. We had a great night in Whitehorse and now we're on our way to Beaver Creek!
BEAUTIFUL DOWNTOWN BEAVER CREEK Added: 08-04-2004|
Today we are in Beaver Creek in the Yukon Territory. The scenery is spectacular and right now at 7 PM its about 77 degrees and sunny! Tonight we're all going to the Yukon Rondezvous Dinner Show at the hotel...its always a big hit! Everyone is having a great time.
IN SKAGWAY...YUKON BOUND! Added: 08-03-2004|
This morning we are in Skagway. We had a great city tour and soon we'll be boarding the White Pass and Yukon Railway across to Frasier, BC. From there we'll go on to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. This is always a good day....the scenery is spectacular!
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY JUNEAU! Added: 08-02-2004|
We had a great morning in Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier. This afternoon we arrived in Juneau where we had a great tour of the city and the Mendenhall Glacier with the group. We're in town for the evening and then we will sail to Skagway where we'll start our overland portion of the tour.
SAILING NORTH Added: 08-01-2004|
Today has been a restful day "at sea"! We have a great group and everyone is looking forward to our visit to Sawyer Glacier tomorrow morning and Juneau tomorrow afternoon and evening. I've spent a great deal of my time today getting everything ready for our new mailer that will be coming out in just a few days....and updating my website! The internet is a wonderful thing!!
NORTH TO ALASKA....AGAIN! Added: 07-31-2004|
Today I came up to Vancouver with a busload of people. We have boarded Holland America Line's Zaandam and we're headed north to Alaska. This cruise is a little different....we'll visit Tracy Arm and Juneau before we disembark in Skagway. Then we have a 7 day land tour through the Yukon and the interior of Alaska. So far the weather is great....I hope this good weather follows us!
SLAVING AWAY IN THE OFFICE! Added: 07-29-2004|
Boy, have we been busy! I'm busy putting all of the finishing touches on my Alaska cruise/tour group that's leaving on Saturday. Also, I've been putting together some great new tours and cruises including something really special for over Christmas and New Years! If you're free next year from March 12 - 20, I have a super cruise deal coming up. Check next week on the website in the "upcoming trips" section for all of the details!
HOME SWEET HOME! Added: 07-26-2004|
I'm back home in Seattle! I had a great cruise in Alaska and now I'm getting ready for the cruise/tour to Alaska on Saturday. I'm busy putting together a whole new group of tours....so, watch your mailbox!
AT SEA! Added: 07-24-2004|
Right now I am in the Internet Cafe aboard Holland America Line's 'Amsterdam'. Its been a great cruise...and the weather has been fantastic! Shortly we will arrive in Victoria for the evening. Tomorrow morning I'll be back in Seattle and Monday its back to the office!
KETCHIKAN Added: 07-23-2004|
Hello from Ketchikan. The weather here is beautiful...its probably over 75 degrees and sunny. I just got back from our Ketchikan city tour including Saxman Native Village with my group. Today we will sail southward to Victoria where we will be tomorrow evening.
GREETINGS FROM SITKA Added: 07-22-2004|
Today I'm in Sitka, Alaska. The weather has been BEAUTIFUL! I had a special tour with the group today visiting the Raptor Center along with the rest of the city. Our tour included the Tribal Dance Show...it was a big hit! Right now I'm working on a special Caribbean cruise over Christmas and New Years that will leave from New Orleans.
GREETINGS FROM JUNEAU! Added: 07-21-2004|
Today I'm in Juneau, Alaska. We had a small bit of rain first thing in the morning but since then its been perfect weather...as it was yesterday visiting Glacier Bay! Today we had our own exclusive "Travel With Alan" tour to the Mendenhall Glacier, Douglas Island, and the McCaully Salmon Hatchery. The tour was a big hit! Tomorrow we'll spend the full day in Sitka.
NORTH TO ALASKA! Added: 07-19-2004|
Today I'm sailing up the Inside Passage aboard Holland America's ms Amsterdam. She is a beautiful ship and so far its smooth sailing! This is a special cruise for me because included in my group is my entire family! Tomorrow we'll be at Glacier Bay.
STILL HOME Added: 07-16-2004|
Our Las Vegas and Cruise package is now sold out! Please call and get on the waiting list so that we can give you first chance at our next departure of this tour. We're working right now on a new date to offer this package!
HOME Added: 07-15-2004|
Today I'm in the office .... the phone has been ringing non-stop for our new tours. I hope you enjoy our new website!