Dianne Newcomer | Monroe News-Star
Luckily, my wellness visits to my family doctor have always been quite unremarkable, but, when I mentioned I was having some serious pain in both hands, the routine changed and the interrogation began. Based on information I had gleaned from the internet, I explained the tendons in my fingers had probably been strained from some pretty intense exercise movements I had done in the pool using those oversized foam water noodles. My immediate plan was to give up exercising; his was for me to see a rheumatologist.
Sometimes, it pays to listen to the professionals. Even without the results of a blood test, my doctor immediately knew what was going on and what I needed. No matter whether it is a plumber, contractor, banker, insurance agent, accountant, teacher or a hair stylist, how very nice it is to have someone looking out for your well-being.
So, when Don McKeithen, one of Monroe Travel Service’s most avid cruising fans (around 48 cruises to date), said he wanted to write an article reminding travelers that cruising is still fun, I could not refuse. The fact that he also threw in a few unsolicited and very kind words about having a travel agent in your corner to help with your vacation planning was a win-win, as McKeithen writes:
Khris and I just want to thank you. It was so good to be cruising again. Our trip to the Bahamas last month is proof of the value of having a long term relationship with your travel agent, because we had a fantastic vacation.
I think anyone thinking they can book that “special vacation” by simply going online to Expedia, the cruise company’s web site, or some other travel site is simply being fooled by slick advertising and what they believe to be are lower prices. I compared the cost of booking my trip through Monroe Travel Service against the price available online and found no difference; Monroe Travel equals or beats web site prices, but it is your knowledge and experience that is as important as the price.
Given the relationship we’ve developed with your firm over the years, you know what we like and don’t like, and our budget. With that knowledge, you have always planned the perfect vacation for us. This is certainly something neither Expedia nor any web site can do. And, last month, you did it again for us!
When I called you in October and told you that Khris and I needed to get away for a week or so but didn’t want to fly anywhere, you suggested a cruise from either New Orleans or Galveston. It certainly was not that we were afraid of Covid preventing us from flying. We just did not want the hassle. All we wanted was to relax and “get away” for a few days over the holidays. We were really unconcerned about the cruise itinerary.
First of all, you knew we did not like short cruises of five days or less because they are usually crowded with children or people who are on a “booze cruise,” so I appreciated it when you sent me 7 day itineraries to consider. We accepted your recommendation about which cruise to take and, most importantly, even took your advice about upgrading to a suite instead of just a balcony cabin. This assured us of extra amenities and the space we desired.
You were right! The extras, like no waiting in line, priority embarkation for suite guests with an escort to our room, and having the suite ready immediately made a good first impression and were all nice touches. Although the Carnival Glory was refurbished about 4 years ago, she seemed a little dated compared to other ships we have enjoyed. Yet, she had numerous restaurants and even those with an additional cover charge were worth the cost. Entertainment was as to be expected of a Carnival cruise, especially one from New Orleans.
Our 7th floor suite was close to the elevators, something else you know we like, and it was huge, bigger than a typical hotel room with a king size bed and a bathroom that included a whirlpool tub and a bidet. The balcony was equally large and fitted with patio furniture including chaise lounge chairs, which was really nice, too. We were able to relax, enjoy the wonderful views of sunny days in the Caribbean and have a room steward attend to our every request!
Unlike other cruise lines, Carnival does not provide a private restaurant for its suite guests, but it does offer priority seating for dinner and special seating locations within the main restaurant. That, coupled with priority seating for entertainment and priority embarkation and debarkation at all ports, makes the suite well worth the cost by adding significant value to the fun. Thank you for knowing what a difference being a “suite” guest would make in our trip.
About the only disappointment we had on the entire trip was missing a day on the beach with a cabana in the Bahamas. The seas were too rough to port. Many of our friends had been concerned that we were cruising during this time of Covid, but, think about this: in order to embark you had to be fully vaccinated, meaning you had to have both vaccine shots, plus present a negative Covid test within 48 hours of embarkation. Nobody onboard should have Covid.
Furthermore, you were forced to wear your mask at all times while indoors, even at the bars, theatres and in the restaurants. If someone felt ill, they were admonished to seek medical attention and, if they tested positive for Covid, they would have had to quarantine in their stateroom. In other words, there were rules to follow and someone was actually there to make sure they were followed. However, I was told that nobody tested positive for Covid at any time during our trip.
As if that was not enough, the ship was constantly being cleaned. In fact, I learned while on board, that the ship is entirely cleaned every evening by a “night crew” who scrub the floors, restaurants, pool area, and other common areas, etc. disinfecting everything. Additionally, it seemed as though someone was always walking behind us wiping off anything we touched. This is why we have no issue going on a cruise.
The trip was just what we needed. We just wanted to get away for a few days, and the cruise from New Orleans fit the bill perfectly for us; you — unlike Expedia — knew we would want the extras. It made a difference and it just shows the tremendous value of using a firm like Monroe Travel Service that knows what we would enjoy…thank you!
Even with Omicron surging, it is important to realize we have come a long way. Think about it. A year ago, we had no vaccine, no travel to/from Europe, and no cruise ships in the water. We were told there would be variants, and the roller coaster ride we were on would not end quickly. Planning a vacation was not impossible, but, unlike the McKeithens, not everyone has wanted to take the risk and get out there again.
Travel has become a little like playing the stock market. If you follow it too closely, the instability and drama of the highs and lows will drive you crazy. Seldom does the day trader win big. The long-haulers- those who stay the course over time–are market winners, and the same is true in the world of travel. Instead of getting out of the game, invest in the long haul!
When the marketplace is nervous is the best time to take advantage of the deals for the long haul–in other words, for your summer and fall vacation. Call Monroe Travel Service and let’s buy in while the prices are probably as good as they will get and the availability is there. Because when this covid roller coaster ride is over, I am betting prices are going to soar and I don’t want you stuck at the end of the line!
Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service. For help with your next vacation plans, please call 318 323 3465 or email [email protected]. We would love to send you away!