Have you heard about ‘wet February’? 💦

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! And welcome February as we continue ‘wave season’ with many travel bookings for 2024 and some 2025 here at HGT central. It’s been long days in the office since the beginning of the year with a sprinkling of meetings with some fantastic suppliers.

This past Friday, I met with a sales director from France who has the most lovely boutique hotels in the French countryside. One of their properties was once the home of famous and incredibly elegant French actress Catherine Deneuve who turned 80 last year. I’m very excited to suggest their hotels to clients for upcoming trips to France (as well as their new dreamy property in Tuscany and on the island of Menorca in Spain).

With all the recent media coverage about Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas massive cruise ship (which by the way is an amazing vacation for families with kiddos), I’m once again myth-busting that the only way to cruise is on a super-sized ship.

Personally, I love a vacation on the water – be it on an ocean or a river. The convenience, ability to see multiple countries/islands, opportunity to meet interesting fellow passengers, and enjoy a wide variety of delicious meals (often overlooking the water) are phenomenal.

There have been some fantastic promotions lately (we’re in the middle of ‘wave’ season), and clients have been jumping on the opportunity to either try a cruise vacation for the first time or book another based on how much they loved the experience last time.

Did you know that 82% of first-time cruisers report that they look forward to cruising again? I think that the majority of the remaining 18% didn’t work with a travel advisor and booked themselves on a cruise that wasn’t right for them for any number of reasons.

This month, I’ll be highlighting the various types of ‘cruise’ vacations and how there is a cruise for every type of traveler. I’m coining the trend ‘wet February’ after ‘dry January.’ 😊

Heads up if you have a long travel bucket list – you can visit multiple countries in one trip on many of these kinds of cruises:

  • Ocean (this week’s topic)
  • River (including barges)
  • Yacht-style
  • Expedition

Read on for the scoop with information and inspiration for ocean cruising, week one of ‘wet February’…

Popular Ocean Cruise Itineraries

When I cruised from Rome to Barcelona (along the Italian and French Riviera) last spring, it was one of my favorite European travel experiences tied with a cruise of the Greek Islands and up the Adriatic to Venice, Italy the year before. I highly recommend either of those itineraries.

If the Caribbean Islands are more to your liking, then there are some fantastic journeys taking you beach paradises. And of course, there’s Alaska which is a must-do cruise destination for every American in my humble opinion 🙂  Hidden Gem Travel clients and I have done and loved these ocean cruise routes.

Other more adventurous ocean cruise itineraries include transatlantic crossings, circumnavigating Iceland, Argentina & Chile, and Australia 7 New Zealand, and Japan to name a few. For these locations, you might consider an expedition style cruise.

Often clients are interested in a cruise with pre and post cruise stays in the first and last ports of call. While some cruise lines offer a packaged land stay, I love to add customized ‘land time’ so that their vacation becomes a nice combination of both types of travel. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

What’s the Best Ocean Cruise for You?

As mentioned, there’s a cruise for every type of traveler who loves the idea of vacationing by water. With so many options for ocean cruising, working with an experienced travel advisor (and cruiser) like me makes the process much easier. Plus we often get some very nice added perks for our clients like onboard credits (always nice to enjoy a complimentary massage).

The other tricky thing is comparing apples to apples in terms of cost as different lines have different inclusions and exclusions. Clients often come to me completely overwhelmed which I totally understand. For example, cruises that entice with a low price to book often mean you’ll debark with a huge bill after adding on shore excursions, beverage packages, wifi, gratuities and a myriad of costs that run up while onboard. Most Hidden Gem Travel clients don’t want to find themselves in that position, so we find better options.

And we cover detailed questions like how long will the ship be in port for key places, where is the best location on the ship for your stateroom, will children might be onboard, is there a casino space, should you buy air or insurance through the cruise line … it’s a very long list of considerations.

💎Hidden Gem Tip:  Bottom line – the best cruise for you is uncovered with professional help. Reach out to me any time about ocean (and river, yacht, and expedition cruises).

Personalized Perks

My umbrella network, Virtuoso, offers the ‘Virtuoso Voyages’ program where select sailings offer valuable added perks for Hidden Gem Travel clients including a dedicated onboard host and point of contact though out your cruise, a hosted cocktail party where you can meet other Virtuoso guests, and your choice of an additional perk including a special shore excursion, private car and driver for a port of call, onboard ship credit to spend on extras, and more.

I always check to see if there’s a Virtuoso Voyage that matches clients’ itinerary and dates – there is no additional cost for the perks on these sailings!

Inspired? Reach out to me now to get your questions answered and begin the planning process.

Wishing you amazing travel adventures,

Susan

NEW Section: Travel News You Can Use

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Revenge Travel Continues

International travel is robust! The statistics below underscore the value of working with an experienced travel advisor (also a human being who cares) for bucket list trips with such a complex landscape. The impersonal internet doesn’t measure up.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is predicting a complete post-pandemic tourism recovery in 2024, with international tourism to exceed 2019 numbers by 10 percent.

Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: www.facebook.com/hiddengemtravelconsulting or Instagram: www.instagram.com/hidden.gem.travel

Make your own Wanderlist for 2024! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you. Check it out here: https://bit.ly/wanderlisthgtc  

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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.

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