Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hawai‘i is for Everyone

Everyone’s idea of Hawai‘i is slightly different.  Some of you think of sand, surf  and Waikīkī.       Others think  of Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona and the Punchbowl. Still other will think of Hawai‘i as the perfect golfing vacation.  That is the beauty of a Hawaiian vacation.  Hawai‘i indeed has something for everyone.

In the next few months we will be experiencing Hawai‘i together, both as activities and as Islands.  I would really like each of you to see why a visit to Hawai‘i often creates a lifelong love affair with the Hawaiian Islands.

Next week we will start with the energizing island of O‘ahu.  Here is the best description of this beautiful paradise directly from Hawai‘i Visitor and Convention Bureau.

"From its famous surf culture to the vibrant nightlife of Waikīkī, The Island of O‘ahu pulses with the beat of contemporary Hawaiian culture. We are an Island playground for active travelers. We are a unique fusion of city and country, American and Polynesian, modern and historic. Travelers leave our Island more energized than when they arrived. We are for people who want to be active on vacation, sample many things, and enjoy an urban environment and unique culture."

Just from this first description you can tell that this is going to be series of articles you really don’t want to miss; so stay tuned.


-T-




Saturday, September 22, 2012

Un-Cruise Columbia and Snake Rivers


While we are looking at mainland adventures we need to look at a very unique vacation experience with InnerSea Discovery.  While this company offers many different yacht expeditions the  Columbia and Snake Rivers Legacies of Exploration and History yacht cruise is truly and adventure that should not be missed.



Embrace the American West spirit and encompass both human and
natural history. The basin was forged by volcanic eruptions 40—6O million years ago and catastrophic floods near the end of the last ice-age. Inhabited by humans for over l5,000 years, indigenous peoples and tribes have a historical and continual presence here. Waves of explorers like Lewis and
Clark and Oregon Trail pioneers charted their way and settled in this land. Then industrialists came along and harnessed the mighty Columbia. In l943, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation — the worlds first full-scale nuclear reactor —was established as art of the Manhattan Project.


Today, you can sail upriver alongside golden coulees, high desert, and steep gorges. A range of vegetation, from Western hemlock, in the moist regions, to sagebrush in the arid country.   Stretches of orchards and vineyards, are strewn across the land supporting several species of wildlife.  The rivers have allowed steamships to link communities and facilitate trade. Today. the dams along the Columbia produce more hydroelectric power than those of any
other North American river.

Highlights:

  • Cruise stunning Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • and visit the towering Multnomah Falls
  • Transit eight locks and tour the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center
  • Jet boat into Hells Canyon and hear the storied past of the Nez Perce
  • Visits to Fort Clatsop, Fort Walla Walla, and the Whitman Mission
  • Discover Victorian Astoria and the Columbia Maritime Museum
  • Explore enchanting Maryhill Museum and Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
  • A private tour and tasting at an exclusive Washington winery
  • Retrace the epic journey of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Daily narrative led by guest experts and onboard Legacy Leaders

Legacy of Discovery

Awaken your senses with Living History programs, discovery of natural wonders, historical landmarks, and amazing human endeavors along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Travel nearly 1,OOO miles through the Columbia River Gorge, quaint riverside towns, the golden coulees of the east, and Washington's premier viticulture areas. Learn the history of Lewis St Clark, Oregon Trail pioneers and Native Americans.  See how agriculture and engineering have shaped this vast region. Stark natural beauty stands in dramatic contrast to hand-of-man achievements along your voyage.



The itinerary for this very unique an special cruise includes activities for everyone.  For the adventurous you will ride a jet boat into Hells Canyon; for the wine lover you will tour many wineries along the snake river; for the history buff you will trace a portion of the infamous Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Along the way you will learn about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and its role in World War II's Manhattan Project.

Your live aboard for this fantastic adventure is the Safari Legacy a 80 passenger yacht with a crew of 34 offering excellent service for all vacationers.

And to top off this great experience the price of the cruise includes on board meals, fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews.  Also included are airport to boat transfers, both directions, entrance fees into parts and museums and a massage while aboard the boat.  

For more information about this adventure please call, or email.

-T-

dhobbs@sjtravelandcruise.com
www.sjtravelandcruise.com
(408) 430-7675

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spoil Me, Absolutely!


Don’t’ get me wrong, I love Hawaii.  I love the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaiian people, the Hawaiian culture, the Hawaiian food and the diverse activities I can participate in while in Hawaii.  However, I am tired of the high airfare prices to my beloved islands.

As a travel consultant it is my job to work with you to provide the best vacation value possible.  I too, travel on a budget and I want to know that my vacation dollars are well spent.  To address the concern this is the first in  a series of articles that will talk about alternate vacations for those of you wanting a unique fun-filled vacation on a budget.

Let’s first look at cruising some of the rivers here in the US.  Just think, shorter flight, lower cost of airfare and you still get all of the benefits of a cruise and more!  What a concept!

This was the inaugural year for American Steamboat Company’s American Queen to cruise up and down the mighty Mississippi River.  With cruises from 3 to 11 nights, each with a specific theme, you are bound to find a cruse you will love.  


If you love Americana, history, Tom Sawyer and the gentility of the South this is the cruise for you. Steamboating is a unique blend of American beauty and history, acclaimed cuisine, lively showboat-style entertainment, and the adventure of exploring Mark Twain’s riverside America. You’ll discover a side of our country that few ever see, from the indescribable perspective of the river. 

The fare for this unique adventure includes:
  • Shore excursions to fascinating river towns and cities.
  • One-night luxury hotel stay and transfers before or after your voyage included in price.
  • Complimentary bottled water and soft drinks.
  • Complimentary wines and beers with dinner.
  • An array of sumptuous dining options including regional cuisine by famed American chef Regina Charboneau.
  • Captain’s Champagne Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
  • All regular shore tours included in the price of your voyage.
And best of all, a fairly short flight from anywhere on the mainland!  Pick you cruise theme a book a cruise.  Some example themes for next year include:

  • Lincoln Legacy & Civil War
  • Polka Cruise
  • Epic Civil War
  • Fall Foliage
  • Walk in Elvis' Steps
So come on aboard and give this unique adventure a try.

-T-




Friday, July 6, 2012

Fly the Friendly Skies

I would prefer to always give you original postings in this blog, but on occasion, I find articles that I really feel you need to see.  Today I am posting an article from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel posted on July 3, 2012.  

This article deals with families trying to be seated together on a flight.  I believe it contains some really good information.  Please read, and comment, if you want.

"If you want to sit next to family or friends the next time you fly, better not leave it up to chance at the airport.
With some airlines no longer allowing families with young children to pre-board, and others putting a premium price on more of their seats in economy, it's getting harder to score seats together without paying extra.
Some fliers say the latest changes in air travel are family un-friendly, as they force travelers on a budget to sit aisles apart if they can't afford to fork out extra for advance seat assignments.
As many South Floridians prepare to fly for the July 4 holiday and peak summer travel period, some could be in for a surprise if they haven't flown in a while.
"Do your homework first then go to a travel agent," said Giuliano Lorenzani, owner and president of Boca Raton Travel & Cruises.
Lorenzani said an experienced travel agent can help travelers — especially novices — navigate the sea of airline fees and find savings on vacations they wouldn't be able to themselves.
Major airlines that fly to and from South Florida including American and Delta have added more legroom to certain seats and are charging extra to passengers who want to reserve them early.
Many times these are the only seats available when purchasing a ticket close to your travel dates as airlines have already blocked seats for elite-status and higher-paying customers.
The seat selection process also has become less transparent, experts say. Seat fees can range from $4 to $200 one-way, depending on airline, benefits and destination.
"The airlines are trying to get people to buy the premium seats," said George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com said. "They're selling scarcity and position."
Hobica said airlines are looking at other industries such as sports and entertainment that are making money from seat revenue management, and are adopting similar strategies.
He advises travelers to bring a few Starbucks Coffee gift cards along to bribe fellow fliers into switching seats, or offer to buy them a drink, so that family members can sit together.
Earlier this year, United Airlines ended a six-month trial that allowed families with children to board flights before the general boarding process, spokesman Charles Hobart said Monday.
That move slowed boarding so United ended the experiment and families with children now board in their respective ticket groups, he said.
"We found that's the most efficient way to get all of our customers, including families with children, on board in a timely manner," Hobart said.
Last month Kaja Meade, a New York mother of a 9-month-old, rallied nearly 39,000 supporters to protest United's decision on Change.org.
"This is another airline policy that's bad for travelers, and I'm concerned that others may follow United's lead," Meade said. "Like many other parents, I rely on pre-boarding as part of my travel plan. It's not an amenity, it's a necessary service."
Industry watchers also have asked airlines to reconsider policies and fees that unfairly burden and stress travelers with young children.
"Families traveling with infants and toddlers often can't avoid checking extra bags filled with everything from the many clothes changes needed for small children to diapers, toys, special blankets and baby bottles," said Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance recently.
In spite of pre-boarding changes, United does encourage travelers with special needs to identify themselves to airport staff so they can try to accommodate their needs," Hobart said.
Families traveling on American Airlines with small children will be at the mercy of check-in and gate agents at the airport if seat assignments aren't secured in advance.
"We do not have a hard and fast rule about calling families to board," spokesman Ed Martelle said. "We give the gate agents leeway to use their discretion given circumstances at the gate."
Some airlines do extend pre-boarding courtesies to families.
Southwest allows family with children under 5 years old to board for free after the A-boarding group, spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said.
JetBlue offers early boarding for families traveling with children under the age of 2, spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said.
"We're in the business of flying people, not just planes," Steinberg said. "JetBlue's mission to bring humanity back to air travel, and that means we work to make the travel experience as comfortable and easy as possible for our customers."
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel"


-T-


Sunday, July 1, 2012


Local Travel Agent Becomes Cruise Expert by Earning Prestigious Top Rank in Princess Cruises Academy

SAN JOSE, CA (June 15, 2012) – A San Jose travel agent has achieved prestigious Commodore status in Princess Cruises’ Academy training program, certifying him as an expert cruise professional. As a Commodore, Dan Hobbs of San Jose Travel and Cruise joins an exclusive group of travel agents who are now recognized by Princess at the Academy's highest level for their unique qualifications and knowledge as a cruise planning professional. Dan earned this distinction after completing the minimum 25 courses necessary to graduate from the program.

“We at Princess are very proud of Dan’s dedication, as  he put in extra effort to offer clients exceptional knowledge regarding our cruise vacation product as well as our worldwide destinations,” said Jan Swartz, Senior Vice President of Customer Service and Sales at Princess. “Travel agents who reach this top level in our Academy program have completed hours of course work to become a cruising expert, which will prove invaluable to providing clients with a great vacation.”

Princess Academy is the cruise industry’s most comprehensive online training program available to travel agents in the U.S. and Canada. Agents who complete the extensive coursework become experts on a wide range of topics, offering travelers full knowledge of important details about a Princess vacation such as the different passenger amenities on the line’s 17 ships, the company’s worldwide destinations and the many special programs available onboard.

“I'm thrilled to be a Princess Commodore and expand my expertise about cruising. The knowledge I've gained makes me a more valuable resource for my clients, and enables me to recommend the very best vacation which matches all of their needs,” said Dan.

To become a Commodore, travel agents must fulfill 25 required and elective classes, representing approximately 15 hours of total course work covering worldwide destinations, onboard programs, and customer service skills. As they complete courses, agents receive their “stripes” through four levels: First Officer, Staff Captain, Captain and finally Commodore. Agents can continue to take elective courses to expand their knowledge and keep their Commodore status current.
# # #
San Jose Travel and Cruise specialize in tours and cruises from the West Coast.  Hawaii is our specialty, but we are very well versed in other West Coast locations such as Mexico, Alaska and the South Pacific.  We look forward in assisting our clients to plan their perfect Princess cruise.

For further information contact:
Dan Hobbs
San Jose Travel and Cruise
(408) 430-7675
dhobbs@sjtravelandcruise.com

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nothing to do in the Hawaiian Islands?


A few nights ago my son, the retired Navy sailor, gave me a call to get my recommendations for his summer vacation. Of course, I suggested Hawaii. His response to me was I've already saying that, I've already done that, I don't want to do it again. This started me thinking about all of the unique vacation opportunities that lie on the six Hawaiian islands. I thought it was about time to jot a few of these down and share with all of you.
.
If you have been to the Big Island you are probably seen volcanoes but did you know that located on the slopes of Mauna Kea is the Mauna Kea Science Preserve. Here you will find the University of Hawaii observatory which is located 9,200 feet above sea level. A few more experiences near the entrance to Volcano National Park is the Mauna Loa macadamia nut visitor center and the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical garden.  The island of Hawaii is also home to the black and green sand beaches. 

On Molokai you could take a mule ride down to the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Once, in the park you can tour the village which was home to hundreds of lepers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 17 people still live there today.



On Kauai you can enjoy a mountain tubing adventure. Mountain tubing follows the irrigation canals and flues engineered in the late 18th century and used to your great irrigate the sugarcane crop. Another incredible adventure on the island of Kauai is zip lining through the rain forest.  And don’t forget the Waimea Canyon referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.



Oahu is home to Pearl Harbor and the other exhibits located in this park. But another important historical site is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Also unique to the Waikiki area is the annual floating of the lanterns which happens during Memorial Day weekend.  This event honors one's ancestors that have passed.

These are just a few of the incredible pictures you can experience in the Hawaiian Islands. One thing that would be very hard to say is that “I've seen it all". Hawaii presents new experiences for everyone on every trip to every island.


-T-




San Jose Travel and Cruise

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Wonderful Molokai Experience



I can't recall ever being asked to plan a trip to Molokai. This little island, one of Hawaii's primary six, just seems to be off of everyone's radar. Being curious I chose to go to Molokai on my last Hawaiian vacation. I believe that if your expectations are set properly this is probably one of the nicest island to visit. If you're looking for nightlife, shopping, and other touristy items you don't want to go to Molokai. But if you're looking for a County that retains its past of 50 years ago this is the location for you. Molokai is truly one place to “get away from it all”.

There are two ways to get to Molokai; by ferry from Maui, or flight from Maui, or Oahu. I choose the latter. A warning to all; the air lines going to Molokai fly small Dash 8, 39 passenger turboprop airplanes. They have stringent weight limitations for luggage. Your checked baggage cannot exceed 50 pounds and your carry-on item cannot exceed 15 pounds. These are absolute limits and the airline will not allow you to exceed them.

The flight from our way to Molokai is probably from 20 to 30 min. The flight I was on was a very unique experience.  We were joined with others going to Molokai, the majority of whom had been to Maui for shopping.  One couple was bringing home the fast food takeout from a hamburger chain.  Other couples have been shopping for items you just can't find on Molokai. The conversation was between everyone and it became very apparent that the passengers on the plane all new one another.

The airport Molokai is a typical small town airport; your.  There are no jetways here.  We arrived in Molokai after dark and after picking up our car tried to find our way to the hotel.  No directions, no lights, no cars and two lane highway. Luckily my cell phone has GPS and I was able to use that to navigate.

Our reservations were at the Aqua Molokai Hotel. I honestly don't believe I would stay there again. Not that the people were not fantastically nice, but the accommodations were lacking for my taste. Our room was on the small side.  The two twin beds were about 6 inches off of the floor.  Getting into bed was painful the best. I believe the toilet was a junior toilet, again very small, and also very difficult to use. The room had a very nice TV, a hanging bar for cloths and a table. We ended up putting the suitcases on the table and just not unpacking.  There was a small fan to circulate the air and a sliding glass door that did not lock.

The upside to staying at the Aqua Molokai Hotel is the Hula Shores restaurant facility.  This restaurant is the gathering place for the entire island of Molokai. Each night Molokai natives gather and join in song and dance hula dance.  This is truly a jam session and everyone seems to have and generally great time. Informal entertainment is a type I enjoy the most and this entertainment was top class. The restaurant also features local recording artists who come in and sing.  The view from the restaurant is spectacular. You are right on the water and watching the seagull floating over the gorgeous blue ocean with experience not be forgotten. While the food was not five-star restaurant quality it certainly was better than I ever expected The menu was varied the service was out of this world. Everyone there was extremely friendly and made it a point to us feel at home.

We used our first full day on Molokai to travel to the north and of the island. This is the location of the three-mile long Papokahu Beach. Both my wife and I have trouble walking so we didn't venture down to the beach but from what we saw it was a fantastically beautiful site. We did see picnic facilities and restrooms. This is purportedly the long a speech in Hawaii. From here we traveled up to the town of Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa is a small plantation town that appeared to be slowly losing residents. Here we visited a kite factory and gift shop and purchased very unique gifts. From here we drove back to upcountry Molokai visited the Kalaupapa Overlook . Kalaupapa is the location of the famed “Leaper Colony”.  There are daily mule rides down a narrow trail to actually visit the town. However we didn't we did not take the mule ride, we just observed above. We then drove back to the hotel for dinner and great entertainment.

The next day we traveled upcountry again this time visiting old sugar mill. We also spent time the small ranch where many of the islands residents go to purchase their produce. From here we drove back to central then and Southern Molokai.  The scenery from the road is breath taking. I would say the first 10 miles of this drive were beautiful but from there on out in the road narrows and driving does become quite troublesome.  Very much like California’s Highway 1 from Carmel to Morrow Bay. We stopped at a small beach just sit and watch the waves.  While we're there a local family came over to say hello. We visited for a while,  again very friendly people. As we drove back to the hotel we also went into the main town of Kaunakakai and visited the local bakery as well as other stores in town. Then back to our hotel the last evening of entertainment.

As I said at the beginning Molokai is not for everyone. I'm a hiker in backpacker and like getting back to nature and away from people.  This island has no crowds, no stop lights and no tourists.  I enjoyed the atmosphere however I would probably not stay same hotel.  I am already planning my fall trip to Hawaii will go to Molokai.  I will try out various other resorts in the area.

If you are looking for a getaway vacation you need to consider the island of Molokai.  We have much more information on our web site at www.sjtravelandcruise.com

 Busy Molokai Road

-T-