Windstar Cruises Webinar Now Available

Our September webinar with Windstar Cruises is now available for viewing on YouTube. Yesterday, Seadog Travels joined Ward Reid, Regional Sales Manager of Windstar Cruises, to talk about Windstar, the ships, their destinations, and their approach to luxury cruising. Mr. Reid gave an excellent overview of Windstar Cruises. We also discussed cruise tours, group bookings, and how the staff onboard the ship really go the extra mile to provide excellent service to their tuests.

This webinar is an ideal resource for people who have not heard of Windstar Cruises or have not cruised with them. Seadog Travels is proud to promote Windstar Cruises among our “Fab 5” group of unique cruise lines. This is because Windstar is a bit different and, we think, a bit better in everything that they do. Watch the webinar HERE. Visit our Windstar Cruises webpage HERE.

September Virgin Voyages Webinar — Join us on Monday!

We invite you to join Seadog Travels on Monday, September 18, 5 pm Pacific (and Arizona) Time, for the monthly Virgin Voyages webinar. This is a fun, 30-minute chat with the sales gang at Virgin Voyages. You’ll learn about the company, the ships, and how Virgin Voyages is making waves in the cruise industry.

This is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of different cabins and suites onboard. In addition, you’ll learn about all the custom dining options, the entertainment, the adults-only environment (sorry kids!), and the destinations where they sail.

If you register and attend, you’re eligible to receive onboard credits if you book with Seadog Travels by the end of September. It’s a great deal, so we hope you’ll join us.

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Exploring Puerto Rico

Seadog Travels had the fortune to visit Puerto Rico for a bit more than three days last month. The trip was organized by the CCRA Travel Commerce Network and was meant as a way for travel professionals to visit the island, meet with local travel suppliers, and to become more familiar with the best ways to promote travel to the Caribbean. We jumped on this opportunity as we have been planning to feature Puerto Rico as one of our early travel destinations. We were not disappointed!

Accommodations. Our stay on the island was at the El Conquistador Resort. This expansive, multi-purpose, and iconic Puerto Rico destination has something for almost everyone. The rooms are spacious and well-appointed. Activities include a water park, golf course, access to a private island, marina, pools, hot tubs, a variety of dining venues, and evening entertainment. In addition, there is a vast amount of meeting space in several meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of almost any size. The staff were friendly and helpful, the resort is attractive, and this is a great destination for families, couples, destination weddings, business meetings, and corporate events. Located along the northeast coast, the resort also offers great views of the Caribbean Sea east to Culebra and Saint Thomas.

San Juan. For our first full day, we explored Old San Juan and Fort San Cristobal. We hiked all around the fort, learned of its history and purpose to defend the island from land attacks, and sought refuge in covered areas when the rains came. Yes, it was a pretty wet visit, but still thoroughly enjoyable. We then went to the convention area to the T-Mobile Plaza and savored authentic Puerto Rican food (mofongo, arepas, oh my!). This is a beautiful and modern facility that has a variety of restaurants, a cinema, stage for live performances, and an open communal area with an amazing presentation system. See our YouTube page to see what we mean.

In addition, we explored the Condado Collection – a series of three different hotel properties in downtown San Juan. The Condado Vanderbilt is steeped in history and will appeal to people who enjoy a classic luxury property. The Condado Ocean Club is a boutique, adults-only, beach-side property designed for people who want a beach scene and some quiet times. There is also La Concha, a chic property for people who love fun, socializing, and meeting people.

El Yunque Rainforest. Our last full day on the island was spent exploring the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service system. If you want a lush forest with waterfalls, lakes, hiking trails, and lots of life, then this is for you. Quite small at about 29,000 acres in size, the forest offers an amazing amount of biodiversity — including the Coqui — a small frog that you can hear chirping.

The people. One of the most noticeable aspects of the trip was the openness and friendliness of the Puerto Rican people. It’s almost contagious and you can’t help but want to ‘Live Boricua’ — live like us — and become a part of the island. The people made the stay so much more enjoyable. It was refreshing, inspiring, and just wonderful.

Meetings. Yes, we had to attend meetings on the second day, but they were all very useful. The governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, gave the opening talk and noted how Americans have been discovering the island since the days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We think this discovery should continue as the island has so much to offer. Puerto Rico often gets a bad rap because of the perception of a struggling island recovering from hurricane damage, but that isn’t what we saw. We saw a thriving island, a thriving people, and a determination by them to live fully and openly.

Summary. Thanks to this trip, Seadog Travels is now super-charging its efforts to promote visits to Puerto Rico. We will begin by finishing our Puerto Rico webpage by the end of October. We plan on highlighting six distinct properties, including the El Conquistador Resort, connecting with local suppliers to offer group travel services, and begin promoting the full range of group travel to the island.

Puerto Rico is truly an attractive destination for U.S. citizens. Easy and available flights to the island. No passport required. A diversity of people to meet and places to go across the island. If you love the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a must-visit destination.

The Trials & Tribulations of Travel

We recently returned from a visit to Puerto Rico, which gave us an excellent opportunity to visit different parts of the island and to meet some of the local travel suppliers. It was a great trip on the island, but we’ll write more about that next time.

THIS post is about the transit part of our travels. You know, the “getting there” part of the journey that is often the most challenging part of any trip. Most times everything goes well, a few times there are some problems, and on rare occasion the trip turns into a massive failure.

For us, our transit gave us a few challenges and experiences that we’d like to share with you. It’s a reminder that there is always a disconnect between the reality of traveling versus the idealized promotion of the idea of travel.

In a world full of Instagram influencers, companies wanting to lure you in because of the awesome features of a place, and everyone trying to frantically get your attention, it’s important to ground expectations of travel in the harsh light of reality. So, with that said, when some adversity arises, it should all be taken in stride. Breathe. Regroup. Take the next step. Move on.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, our fine readers, here is a list of our travel challenges on this trip. Some felt exasperating, some humorous. It makes us appreciate the hard work of everyone in the travel business.

  • Hotel Choices. Our first hotel choice prior to flying was near the Phoenix airport in a pretty sketchy area. East Van Buren Street in Phoenix looks like a scene out of Breaking Bad — a collection of auto shops and cheap motels. Yikes! Our Hilton Garden Inn hotel was OK, but we’ll avoid this area next time.

  • Airport Parking. Be sure to research the parking at large airports. Skyharbor/PHX is huge and there are many parking lots. Download the airport maps, make your choice, and that will make your travels infinitely easier. (Yes, we didn’t quite do this on this trip.). A big shout-out to the Sky Harbor/PHX parking gang that has a service to help people find their cars. You guys are awesome!

  • The Bagel Nazi Lady. After our first flight from Phoenix, to Charlotte, NC, we had breakfast prior to our next flight. Remember the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld? Well, meet the Bagel Nazi Lady. She scared the couple ordering in front of us. Her gruff “What do you want?” statement meant you really should know what you want right away lest she cut off your head. Not what you’d call great customer service, but she did leave quite the impression!

  • While at Chicago O’Hare airport and walking to our terminal, we used the walking escalator to get us along a bit quicker. As it was almost time to get off, an older woman and her grandson didn’t seem to notice the time to get off. Well, their luggage fell over, they stopped, we almost fell on top of them, and we had to scramble to clear the way — otherwise we’d have a pileup and maybe injuries. Fortunately, everyone was fine with only a few bruises from our team to report later.

  • August. The Caribbean. That means tropical storms. We watched systems develop throughout our stay. We were lucky as the systems stayed away from Puerto Rico during our stay and only gave us some rain.

  • Mind-numbingly tight flight connections. When you have only 45 minutes between flights, you begin debating the odds of missing your flight early in the game. So much can go wrong. It just takes one hiccup in the system, you know. Our inbound flight was 5 minutes late and our connecting gate was further away than we thought. Commence the hustle to the gate! We made it, but just barely, and with only a few minutes to spare. And out of breath, too!

  • Coffee Robbers. Do you notice that people tend to be in a rather fragile state-of-mind while traveling these days? It sometimes leads to weird behavior. So it occurred at a Starbucks. While waiting for our coffees, one arrived, but was promptly snatched up by a woman who apparently really needed her coffee. We had to convince her to give it back and that it really was not hers. She ultimately relented. I hope she received her coffee!

Help Maui Wildfire Victims

News of the rapid and devastating wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii, — and the growing loss of life and property — is another call to action where we need your help. At least 36 people have died, the town of Lahaina has been lost, and thousands of people are without homes or power.

Please donate to the Maui Strong Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation to help the victims of these wildfires. Your help and financial contribution is appreciated and very much needed.

This is a reminder that wherever we live, we are a community and we should help people in need. Thank you!