Outright Scams and Shady Practices: How Mature Travelers Can Be Savvy Consumers and Get the Best Vacations! – Part II

Outright Scams and Shady Practices: How Mature Travelers Can Be Savvy Consumers and Get the Best Vacations! – Part II

Shady Practices: Not Technically a Scam, But Still Not a Good Idea: Rising Commodity Costs and How Many Cruise Lines Make Their Money

Despite the economy, the travel industry has grown since 2009. Most companies that offer exceptional service, value, and an extraordinary experience have flourished, and they rarely advertise on TV or send out mass-market brochures. The only exception to this is if you are a past cruiser; in this case, you will get the brochures from the company you cruised with.

If you think of the ads you have seen, you will likely not be able to recall any ad that offered a ridiculously low price as your actual cost. A respected travel advisor can get you the best value — notice I did not say cheap.


Live out of our suitcases cartoon


We have all complained about the cost of groceries and gas. The fuel companies are not going reduce their fuel prices nor are the food suppliers. Those higher costs get passed down and naturally will show up on ticket and cruise prices. So who is going to make up for that price difference? Well, two groups of people, primarily: you (the consumer) and those who work on cruise lines. Most cruise lines are not registered in the US and therefore do not fall under our rules and regulations. They are only in US ports for a few hours so inspections would be very limited.

Most mass market/contemporary ships make their money by charging for everything they can — pushing alcoholic beverages, shore excursions, selling jewelry and souvenirs. And here is my favorite money-making tactic: They buy an island off the coast of a popular destination, such as Haiti. The brochure advertises that you are visiting Haiti, when actually you are going on an island that is owed by the company — and therefore everyone and everything at this destination is an employee of the cruise lines, and everything you eat, drink, and buy is paid to the ship. They will get their money from you one way or the other.  You are better off going with a cruise company that believes in quality and wants your business.

When you see advertisements for cheap cruises, what they are really selling is probably the one cruise that has been in the news several times with a ship sinking, resulting in 31 fatalities, and a captain who jumped ship. Yes, they are cheap; however they will get their money. Once you are onboard, remember fuel and food has gone up.  Keep in mind the problems that have occurred that have been employee-related — usually connected to poor maintenance or inexperienced officers. Remember what your mama said: you get what you pay for. 

The experienced officers and employees with good recommendations get the better positions on the ships who are willing to pay them what they are worth.

Simply speaking: do you want to go with a company who puts most of their money into advertising or into their employees? You are out in the middle of the ocean. Do you want employees who are experienced and loyal, or ones who are basically trainees?


The High Standards of The Signature Travel Network

Working with The Signature Travel Network, there are companies that are on our do-not-market list, I’m not naming names, but one example might be a cruise line that start with the letter “C”. You will see other companies promoting them. Is this fraud? NO!

However, I personally feel, as a travel advisor specializing in the senior population, that I should screen companies as much as possible to make sure that my clients are not wasting their money. I believe that the safety record of any company should be considered.

The golden years are finally here; you have raised your children and now it is your time to take that bucket list tour you have been dreaming about.  You know the one that you keep putting off until your kids are grown, your dog is married (you know what I mean), that amazing trip that has always been in the back of your mind.

Whether it is sitting amongst the penguins in Antarctica, taking the Venice Simplon Orient Express, or perhaps taking that bus tour around the USA.  You know you deserve something special!

MY host company, The Signature Travel Network, is a group of independently-owned agencies with sales of over 6 billion dollars a year. We do not have quotas. My company believes in white-glove personalized treatment for all clients. Unlike other host companies, we do not work with all suppliers; potential suppliers have to meet certain standards, and if they do not, they are placed on our “Do not market list” — which means that thousands of agents will not be booking that company. What does this mean for you? Better value, vip treatment and more amenities.

With so many travel options out there, it can be overwhelming. I work as your senior value interpreter, making sure that all your needs are taken care of — before, during, and after your dream vacation. You are never alone!