Tag Archives: Internet

Nation Ford High School Visit, Recap

Yesterday, I visited Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina to talk to the Virtual Enterprise class about the cruise industry and the ins and outs of running an online cruise agency.   The Nations Ford Virtual Enterprise class, taught by Lou Anne Cornwell, chose to be an online Cruise Agency for their virtual business (great choice).  They interact in a virtual economy with the other Virtual Enterprise businesses from around the US.   I was impressed by how well this program is preparing students for the real world.  They have to write a business plan, write resumes, interview with local business leaders, develop websites, create commercials, and almost any other function that is required to run a business.  

Checking out the Website

I showed them how we market CruiseDeals.com online and how we use social media to interact with our customers and continuously provide free information to help make the cruising experience better for all cruisers.   I explained to them that Travel Agents provide value by using their expertise to match up clients with the perfect cruise based on the client’s preferences.    Vacations are in most consumers’ top 5 most expensive purchases and a good travel agent ensures that their client gets the most out of that investment.   After answering a few questions, I toured the class to review their website, 30 second commercial, accounting tools, invoices, brochures, and company policies.

What I Learned: My fellow Travel Professionals, take this as your fair warning.  If this group of students is any indication of what the future holds you better step up your game.  15 – 20 year olds grew up on the internet and creating a professional website, editing video & pictures, using social media, maximizing mobile devices all come naturally to this generation.  Their strong base of technical knowledge will give them a huge advantage as technology development continues to move forward at light speed.   We have to adopt new technology quickly as it becomes available and push ourselves to continuously experiment and learn. 

Prior to meeting the Nation Ford High School Virtual Enterprise class, I’d become jaded about high school curriculum.  I felt that US students graduate high school without basic real world skills like how to buy a house, how to write a resume, how to fill out their tax forms, and other basic finance skills.  I’m glad that I went to “teach” this class about the cruise industry because I learned that there are programs teaching students real world skills, teachers like Lou Anne Cornwell who enthusiastically teach those classes, and that these students come naturally loaded with a base of technical knowledge that will help them compete in the real world.

The HR Department

All Smiles in the Virtual Enterprise Class


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Filed under Social Media, Uncategorized

SinglesCruise.com Refreshed

SinglesCruise.com New Homepage

Last Week, SinglesCruise.com unveiled their new online digs…the website has a fresh new look, but more importantly flows better and is very user friendly.  During the design and buildout of the new SinglesCruise.com website, they were able to receive feedback from their strong community of single cruisers. 

“We understand if you have never been on a singles cruise or a regular cruise for that matter, that you probably have a lot of questions on what to expect and we tried to provide a lot of those answers upfront on our new website,” explained Chris Parker, vice president of SinglesCruise.com. “We want to make it as easy as possible for someone to learn about the unique vacation experience we provide as well as find the best singles cruise for them. Once an unattached traveler goes onboard and actually experiences our singles cruise program, that’s it, they are hooked!”

Whether you are an internet cruise geek like me or you are actually looking to join other singles on a group cruise, go give SinglesCruise.com’s new website a spin for yourself. 

For those North & South Carolina singles over 35 years old you should check out the Carolina Singles Cruise departing on November 13th for 5-nights, rates start $333.57 including all taxes and fees! The Carolina Singles Cruise is a CruiseDeals.com and a Heart&Soul Matchmaking Event.

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Week Recap: WSJ, Twitterview, My Brother Walks

My Best Week Evar? Probably not… the week my daughter was born was pretty special. The Cruise to Italy on the Inaugural sailing of the Costa Deliziosa rocked… and I am pretty sure there are some others that rank up there. Life isn’t always roses! As a former Quizno’s Franchise owner/operator, I’ve had my share of miserable weeks too… especially the ones where our store was broken into (the one where they knew the code to the safe was the worst). Luckily those days are way behind me!

As a Cruise Geek who loves Social Media, this week was pretty awesome. I was Twitterviewed by @nclandy, Andy Stuart EVP of Global Sales for Norwegian Cruise Line. A twitterview is a public, open interview live on Twitter in which the audience can participate. I was quoted this week in the mecca of business print, the Wall Street Journal about cruise pricing trends this summer. @93octane (Lyell Petersen) and I hosted a South by Southwest Q&A at our local Business Tweetup, #btynbiz. @ericfraz, writer for the Charlotte Observer, wrote a quick article about the Q&A session. The best part of the Tweetup was meeting several local business people joining us to learn more to start their journey into using Social Media to strengthen current relationships and to generate new business. To cap off the week, last night I came in second in the Twitter Poker Tour weekly game out 30+ entrants.

THE BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK: Mike, my younger brother, walked for the first time since his car wreck on December 17th, 2009. He first used crutches and has now walked a few steps without the crutches… he was lucky to have lived through the accident, and even luckier that his feet were not amputated due to compound fracture and . After 3 months of being in a hospital bed and wheelchair, it made my week to hear that he’s able to begin the process of strengthening his legs to be able to walk again. ~ Happy Sailing, Rich Tucker

Mike at New Year's - 2 Weeks after the Accident

Lets stay connected, be my friend on Twitter!

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Filed under Norwegian Cruise Line, Social Media

SportsAgentBlog.com Teams up with CruiseDeals.com

CruiseDeals.com has teamed up with Dynasty Athlete Representation, LLC to host a group cruise for the agents and their growing client list of Professional Baseball players. They will set sail on October 4th on the Monarch of the seas to the sunny Bahamas. This is an awesome opportunity for the players to get away, relax, connect with other players, and of course have FUN! Dynasty Athlete Representation shares my passion of interactive media. They are a leader in Sports Blogging; you can find all of their original content on SportsAgentBlog.com.

While on their cruise you will be able to follow them on Twitter at @DynastyReps, @Darren_Heitner, and @BryanSwalley…. (if you enjoy Baseball and Sports start following them Now!)

CruiseSource.us and Cruisedeals.com are teaming up with the best content producers on the internets to create one-of-a-kind group cruise experiences. We are excited to now include Dynasty Athlete Representation to that list of partners!

If you are an awesome content producer, have an audience, and have thought about using a group cruise to share your passion and to strenghten your connection with your audience and friends, call me 704.965.0228 – that is what I do!
Happy Sailing ~ Rich Tucker

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Filed under Royal Caribbean, Social Media

CruiseSource.us representing at #SXSW

I’m flying out tomorrow, Friday March 12th to go to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest to attend sessions & panels about Interactive Media. South by Southwest is the yearly Film, Music, and Interactive Media Festival. The 1st week of the festival is focused on Interactive Media and is considered by many to be Geek Spring Break. Lyell Petersen, @93Octane on Twitter and the dot com in CruiseDeals.com, and I (@CruiseSource on Twitter) will possibly be the only 2 people representing the Cruise Industry at South by Southwest.

We’ve been leaders in trying to get ‘Cruising’ into the Social Media Conversation. Lucky for me, I love to talk about Social Media as much as Cruising! In the last couple of years, I’ve helped lead the way by being one of the first cruise industry bloggers, the first one to tweet from a cruise ship, the winner of the Shorty Award in Travel for my use of Twitter, the first to giveaway a cruise on Twitter and Facebook, and hosting the Social Fresh Cruise, the premier social media conference at sea. Now, I am excited to go learn the answer to the question: What’s Next?

@93Octane aka Lyell Petersen

@93Octane aka Lyell Petersen

Social Media is just a catalyst for face to face meetings and by attending South by Southwest, I will finally get to meet many of my long-time online friends in person . I also get to see many of my friends from Social Media Week, Shorty Awards, SoCruise, and other social media conferences in person again. I’m stoked (which is a good sign I am probably a geek)… feel free to follow along with my personal twitter account @RichTucker.

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Carolina Nightlife SpringBreak Cruise, departing in 3 days!

Photo by @adrants on the Carnival Destiny 11.12.10

CruiseDeals.com teamed up with Carolina Nightlife, a leader in party promotions and Facebook Marketing in the Southeast.  The 1st Annual Carolina Nightlife Spring Break Cruise to the Bahamas sets sail on March 8th, 2010 from Port Canaveral on the Monarch of the Seas.   We sold the group out 2 months prior to the departure date.  Some of the top party schools will be represented on the Spring Break Cruise including East Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, App St., & UNC-Charlotte.   Follow @CLTNightLife on Twitter as Hunter will be live-tweeting and posting pictures from the Spring Break cruise as connectivity allows.  When they return we will post pictures from their cruise.

Join the Carolina NightLife Spring Cruise Facebook Group so that you will be able to take part in the 2011 Spring Break Cruise!   Remember to book early so you do not miss the boat in 2011.

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Filed under Royal Caribbean

8 tips to Avoid Online Cruise Booking Errors

Booking Cruises online is growing in popularity thanks to many of the sites being extremely user-friendly, people are becoming more comfortable making online purchases, the convenience, and they are finding the best deals online.  Here are 8 tips to help you avoid some common errors when booking your cruise online without the assistance of a Travel Agent.  If you are ever confused about what you are booking, call the agency’s 800 number and talk to an agent. 

#1 Booking a Category 1A cabin on a Carnival Cruise and not realizing that a Category 1A is one twin bed on the floor and a twin bed that comes out of the wall.  Basically, it is bunk beds.  The least expensive inside cabin on a Carnival Cruise is a Category 1A and when you see “rates starting at $199 on a Carnival Ship” it is for 1A.

# 2 Booking an Obstructed Ocean View Cabin thinking that they were getting a full view.  The least expensive Ocean View Cabin on most ships with all of the cruise lines are obstructed by life boats.  The cruise industry considers cabins on the outside of the ship to be Ocean View.  First time cruisers get very upset when they book an Ocean View cabin online and then they get to the cruise ship there is a life boat in front of their window.   The best way to prevent this from occurring is to printout a Deck Plan of the ship that you are booking onto and see where your cabin is located.  There is usually a pretty steep jump in price from Obstructed Ocean View to the full Ocean View. 

# 3 Not understanding Cruise Line Cancellation Penalties.  If you book a cruise and the full payment is required at the time of booking, then you are already within the timeframe in which cancellations are penalized.  When you book online, you are fully responsible for knowing the cancellation policy of the cruise line and of the agency you are booking through.   Cruisedeals.com does not charge any admin fees for cancellations, but we required to follow the cruise lines policies.   Some other agencies charge booking and cancellation fees on top of the cruise lines policies, so you need to be aware of those as well.   Cruise line penalties usually start around 80 days prior to the sail date.  Adding Travel Insurance is the best way to reduce the risk of being penalized for last minute cancellations.

#4 Not Understanding what it means to book a Guarantee.  When people book a cruise online and do not get a cabin assignment at the time of booking or they book an Inside or Ocean View Guarantee they sometimes do not understand what they are booking.  A Guarantee means that you are Guaranteed at least that category of cabin depending on availability.  So it leaves you opened to getting upgraded, but because you are giving the cruise line the ability to assign your cabin that once it is assigned the cruise line will not move it for you.  This is usually the way to get the best deal, but you give up control of location for the low price and the hopes for a “free” upgrade. 

#5 Not giving themselves enough time to get to the pier when they book their flights.  Every port and airport is different so you need to find out what are the recommended arrival and departure times for flights for that sailing prior to arranging your flights.  You have to be to the pier 2.5 hours prior to the cruise ship departing. 

#6 Bonus Offers: A growing online trend is great bonuses like Onboard Credits and Free Gratuities being offered by Online Travel Agencies.  These bonus offers set online agency’s deals apart from the cruise lines offers.  These offers can lower the total price of your cruise when booking online, but these bonus offers can also be confusing.   Many of these bonus offers only apply to certain cabin categories like only applying to balcony and suite.  When booking online, make sure that the cabin you are booking gets the bonus offer.  If it is confusing, call in to speak with an agent.  If you feel the site was misleading, then move on to another online cruise agency.

#7 Coupon Books: Coupon Books vs. OnBoard Credits –  The Coupon Books are advertised as savings up to $400…  if you are choosing between coupon books and onboard credits which is actually cash to spend on board… then take the deal with On Board Credits. 

#8 Early Booking Savers – If you are booking Carnival Cruises a few months prior to the cruise, the lowest rate offered is a rate that requires a non-refundable deposit.  The early saver rate is about 20% less than the other rates and gives the consumer the guarantee that if the rate drops.   I think the rate and guarantee is worth the non-refundable deposit.  As with any booking, I recommend buying travel insurance at time of deposit to protect your investment and yourself

 Happy Sailing ~ Rich Tucker

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Filed under Carnival, How to Find Cruise Deals, Royal Caribbean