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Here at Amazing Journeys, we're lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it's chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.


Traveling Single; A Fast & Furious Growth in the Travel Industry

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

After a long and committed relationship with couples and families, the travel industry is hitting the singles scene full force. There is a growing number of companies exclusively catering to unattached travelers organizing journeys that mix high-end vacationing with coed bonding. Many of these outfits are going beyond the old lonely hearts Carnival booze cruise, rolling out extended excursions to both nearby US National Parks and far-flung locales like Asia, Australia, South America and even Spitsbergen, Norway. 

According to the latest census, nearly half of all adult Americans are unmarried. With young people waiting till later in life to settle down and with more boomers retiring and getting their second wind, the travel industry has a lot of potential single clients. Research has found that 26 percent of leisure travelers took at least one trip by themselves last year. So while many others in the business are just starting to recover from the recession, solo-specific tour operators are reporting two or three times as many 2011 bookings as the industry overall.

Of course, going solo isn’t without its quirks. To begin with, singles-only companies sometimes avoid the single supplement by matching travelers with roommates, a delicate procedure. Then there’s the age factor: Since these trips draw nearly all ages, age-specific trips can lend itself to some people who miss the spectrum to feel left out….yet if a trip is open to too wide an age range it can tend to be too diverse for an interest group.

And women hoping to be surrounded by travel-loving men may be disappointed to discover that the clientele skews so heavily female that a few companies even reserve “emergency” spots for men. 

If you’re already humming the theme to The Love Boat, you’re not far off; while Julie and Gopher may not have been aboard, most early singles tours were cruises. Singles cruises today are no longer limited to just romantic Caribbean getaways.  Quite the contrary as experienced cruisers “outgrow” the fun in the sun idea in lieu of more destination-oriented endeavors.  Indeed, ocean-faring trips are still popular and becoming even more broad with cruising opportunties that not only include Europe, Alaska and Southeast Asia, but unique cruising experiences to far away places like Antarctica, Galapagos Islands and The Amazon.

Still, the singles-travel market now looks much like the general travel industry, with its constant stream of new and more unusual trips designed to appeal to experienced travelers. But no matter how much these companies tout their travel bona fides and stress that they’re not dating services, they say vacationers only care about one thing: more than where they are going, a recent survey showed that they want to know who else is going.

Despite even exotic destinations, it’s really the social side of the trips that has prompts many to sign up again and again.The preponderance of repeat bookers, though, can be intimidating to travelers who show up without knowing a soul. Travelers also report that the trips sometimes develop their own cliques, and even the companies admit that there are often one or two people who need a lot of help being eased into the group. Amazing Journeys, for example works diligently to “cater to the solo traveler”- expressing to first time travelers that everyone traveled with us for the first time once.  By nourishing the lasting value of repeat business while cultivating and catering to first time travelers, Amazing Journeys has had exceptional results in blending the two sources into each and every successful trip.

Ia Orana (“yo-rah-nah”)

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Ia Orana is a proper greeting (“Hello” or “Welcome”) in the Tahitian language.  This week 36 AJers will will say Ia Orana to each other, and to Tahiti as we embark on an 11-night journey to French Polynesia.  Perfect weather is an understatement as balmy days turn into moonlit nights, and where tropical breezes blow while brightly colored fish swim just below the surface of clear turquoise waters. 

The pampering begins with two nights at an incredible resort in Tahiti followed by a seven night cruise aboard the luxury ship, Paul Gauguin. Built specifically for French Polynesia, this intimate voyage will glide our group of honorary Jewish single Tahitians through some of the most remote islands of the world.  Some of these islands you may have heard of: Tahiti and Bora Bora seems to be familiar to many.  But there are 118 islands-about 50 of which are inhabited-that make up French Polynesia.  Our journey will also take us to the tiny but pristine islands of Moorea (More-aya), Raiatea (Ry-a-taya) and Taha’a (pronounced exactly how it looks).

The ship is equipped with an array of unique features such as a drop-down watersports marina where passengers will enjoy complimentary kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing and waterskiing.  On board, unlimited complimentary drinks, three exquisite restaurants, Polynesian entertainment and a ratio of one crew member to every two guests will translate into one huge Ia Orana (“Welcome”) and memories to last a lifetime. The word ‘vacation’ cannot be more clearly defined than what is in store in French Polynesia. 

To share in the tranquility of these unique islands our new friends will travel from four countries to be a part of this amazing journey: US, Canada, Australia and England.  Stay tuned to our Amazing Journeys facebook  ( page over the next 2+ weeks for a front row seat on our adventures. 

And then…don’t be left out in the cold yourself.  Why not consider joining us on one of our next upcoming Amazing Journeys:  Spain, China, West Coast Cruise, India, Music Cities of the South, New Year’s Caribbean Cruise, Alaska…and lots more.   Visit:  

And you thought the Scots only played bagpipes…

Monday, June 13th, 2011

As Amazing Journeys prepares to take nearly 100 eager and excited travelers to Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales on our Jewish singles cruise to the British Isles, everyone accepts that its simply part of the process to have to find a way to get there.  These days flying is such a challenge and potentially full of stories-in-the-making that we, as airline passengers, share an almost-kinship to the whole experience.  From fares that change by the minute, to the friendly (right!) customer service, to precarious delays and added charges for anything from luggage to food to snacks and booking fees….you never really know what an airplane ticket will cost you until you finally get off the dang flight. 

Well, here’s a little perspective as conveyed entertainingly by a few Scottish ladies.  Apropos given our upcoming Amazing Journeys destination that includes Scotland. 

Feel free to sing along….or just have a little laugh.

Cruise Ships in Brooklyn Going Green – Plugs In on Shore

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011


The mighty Queen Mary 2 will no longer be belching diesel fumes over Red Hook when it docks at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal next year. Instead, the cruise ship will shut its engines and plug into a giant electrical outlet built especially for the port.

After about two years of negotiations, the Bloomberg administration announced recently a multiagency agreement to supply cruise ships with “shore power,” The Brooklyn terminal will become the first on the East Coast to adopt the cleaner technology.


Advocates for the environment, who have staged protests and lobbied since 2006, hope the pending agreement will rid the waterfront community of a veil of haze and what they contend are associated health risks.


There has been little controversy about the merits of reducing pollution, mostly sulphuric gases, from cruise ships idling in port.  The debate raged, however, over who should foot the bill. Electricity for a 3,000-passenger cruise ship the size of four football fields was not exactly on the rate card for the NYC Power Authority, which provides power for the cruise terminal.  But ultimately, the city, state and private sector came to a tentative agreement. and the Economic Development Corp  agreed to subsidize some of the cost of the power, as did the power authority.


Under the five-year agreement, Carnival Cruise Lines, which owns the Queen Mary 2, will pay 12 cents per kilowatt hour, while the city economic agency and the power authority will divide the remaining 16 cents, according to one official with knowledge of the deal.  Carnival will also have to pay $4 million to retrofit its two ships that use the port the Queen Mary 2 and the Caribbean Princess. The two ships dock in Brooklyn a total of 40 times a year.


For the cruise line, the deal may cost about $1.7 million more than using the diesel generators that now operate at the port. But the company has already embraced the technology, introducing it 10 years ago in Juneau, Alaska.  Electrical power is now used at cruise terminals in Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego and Los Angeles.


A large cruise ship burning diesel emits more than 1,600 tons of air pollutants annually, according to an environmental impact study conducted as part of the project to switch from diesel to electricity.  Plugging in to an alternative hydroelectric source would eliminate nearly 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide and 6.5 tons of diesel particulate matter annually.  Just from the shore powering of these two ships, it will be the equivalent of removing 5,000 cars per year from the road.”



Lifestyles of the Weird and Weirder

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Every once in a while I like to share a story about the stranger side of ravel.  As a tour leader for nearly 20 years, I often think that there isn’t much I haven’t seen…but then I face a challenge beyond even my own experience.  Some of these life moments are funny, some perplexing, some annoying and some….just gotta be told.

Take the woman who once told me that she would never travel with our company again “because the last time I visted this island, the weather was much better”.  Or, how about one of our cruise passengers who pulled a knife on a waiter because the poor Filipino just couldn’t understand that our passenger wanted his dessert before his appetizer. 

It was a butter knife! 

Then there was this moment in time when I was called into the stateroom of two women who divided the furniture in their room like Less Nessman (WKRP in Cincinatti) put down masking tape around his desk to create a virtual private office….for the purpose establishing a “my zone / your zone”.  In a 200 sq. foot space, you can only imagine what this room looked like.  Among other things, one of the beds blocked the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door to the balcony, for which both parties paid a premium to have.  How does someone resolve something like this??  I’m a tour leader, not a psychiatrist!  This took my customer service skills to new levels of problem-solving capabililties…

So, I came upon this story. Not one that I’ve experienced on one of our Jewish singles trips, nor one that I have encountered personally…but one that I certainly may someday. 

With someone like this sweating the small stuff so much, its a wonder to even call it a vacation

Woman Sued Carnival Claiming Cruise Ship Was Too Fast

An Indiana woman will not have her day in court, at least in her home state, on claims that as a cruise passenger she became ill on her vacation because a Carnival Cruise Lines ship was going too fast.  Doris Beard sued the cruise line claiming “due to the speed of the ship I became very sick, my body swayed terrible on the ship,  I had bleeding which had not happened [sic] in three years. The ship was moving so fast everyone on board became sick, even the workers,” according to a court document.

The cruise line called for the case to be dismissed, arguing the venue for the suit should be changed to Florida, where the cruise line is based.  The cruise line’s motion was denied by a small claims court in Lake County, Indiana. But the Indiana Court of Appeals said this week the small claims court “erred,” and has reversed the decision.

Which  ship Beard cruised on and where she took her cruise was not listed in the court document and the amount she is seeking was not specified.  Carnival argued the terms and conditions of the cruise contract require the case to be heard in Florida. The cruise line also argued Beard’s claim was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations in the cruise contract.

A spokesman did not respond to a request for further comment.

Ala Carte Pricing Coming to Cruises?

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Over the past several years, cruise lines have been slowly adding in ala carte pricing for even the most basic items.  First, the cruise lines added charges for sodas in the dining room, once considered to be part of the cruise’s “all-inclusive” pricing.  Then they added upscale dining options at specialty restaurants with fees of $10 – $35.  Next there were ice cream and coffee bars with more and better tasting choices, charges for freshly squeezed orange juice and fees for after hours room service deliveries.  The all-inclusive pricing structure of a cruise are nearly gone.  Don’t get me wrong, the value associated with cruise ship travel still gives you “the most bang for your buck”  however, it is clearly not an “all-inclusive” price anymore.

Carnival Cruise Lines last week announced its most recent addition to the cost of a cruise.  They are “testing” the concept charging an extra $18 for steak or lobster entrees in the regular dining rooms on three of its big cruise ships. Royal Caribbean began charging for upgraded steak selections in their main dining rooms several months ago.  This is a trend that has begun and I suspect will be picked up by every major mass-market cruise line, as always happens when one segment of the industry finds a way to make additional income.

According to Ed Perkins in his article, “Ala Carte Pricing Coming to Cruises,” he says, For most of their modern existence, cruise lines have touted “inclusive” pricing as a major advantage over most vacation alternatives. With the exception of tipping—and usually alcoholic beverages—once you bought into the cruise, you really didn’t have to spend anything extra for the duration. Of course, you paid extra for port excursions and some specialty recreation activities, but those were strictly options. Meals, snacks, regular beverages, entertainment, and most onboard activities were “free” once you got onboard.

What’s changing?  Basically, the way you buy cruises is changing. An executive at a travel company was recently quoted as saying that, with the giant online travel agencies, the travel industry has created a business model “specifically designed to bring our prices down” as much as possible. Those various agencies and their search engines permit instant price comparisons among essentially all the suppliers in any given marketplace. They don’t just facilitate, they emphasize searches for the “lowest” price or fare.

The big airlines recognized this new marketing reality a few years ago: That showing up as the “lowest” option in any search is a huge competitive advantage. In response, most have started to charge extra for many of the facilities and services that were once bundled into the fare, primarily so they could keep that base fare figure as low as possible. In fact, their behavior clearly shows that, absent diligent government oversight, they would engage in wholesale price-splitting: Carving out an arbitrary portion of the real fare, giving it a plausible label—think “fuel surcharge” here—and excluding it from the base fare display. This “lowest fare” focus is especially important with airlines, because you, the consumers, have shown that low fares easily trump any minor product differences.

My take is that the mass-market cruise lines are facing the same sort of problem. With the advent of modern megaships, product differentiation is decreasing. More and more, you will buy a cruise on the basis of an online search, for example, for the line and ship with the best price for a balcony cabin from South Florida to the Caribbean in March. Like the coach/economy airline seat, the mass-market cruise cabin will become a commodity.

Clearly, if I’m right, cruise lines will chip away at their total service packages by adding extra charges for food, beverages, and activities. How fast they will chip depends on market response. But the ability to come out “lowest” in any sort of price comparison is far too important for any mass-market line to ignore. If the only way to show lowest in a search is to charge extra for what used to be “free,” they’ll charge extra.

What are your thoughts on a la carte pricing coming to cruises?  Will you continue to cruise?  Do you still think it offers value for your vacation dollar above land-based vacations?   Share your thoughts by adding a comment below.

Jews in Berlin – a new beginning…?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Having just returned from a truly “Amazing” Journey with 130 passengers throughout Scandinavia, Russia and even Germany, I am in a reflective mood.  In the hustle and bustle of leading groups around the world, I sometimes don’t have the opportunity to actual absorb the essenses of where I am.  Now that I am seizing that opportunity, I am reminded of a stop that meant a lot to me.

Our first port of call was one that I was a little unsure of.  Historically, Berlin has been a city in flux and I felt similar feelings about visitin g a place with such a harsh history. Turns out it was an eye opening experience and a very memorable one, in more good ways than I imagined. I learned that Berlin is trying to reinvent itself and that the dedication to a Jewish cause is currently respectable at the very least.

There is a noticeable vibe in the city as it works to earn the respect of the world, and as a Jew, I felt a sense of passion and change for the better.  Our guide was very poignant as he described Berlin of yesterday compared to Berlin today saying that after decades of hate, it is now a city aimed at youth, peace and resistance to becoming again what it once was.

Seeing the remnants of the Berlin Wall and the landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate (pictured here), as well has hearing some of the stories of survival, escape…war and peace, were powerful features and definite highlights of our tour.  I think I share the same sentiment as most of my group in stating that time in Berlin was memorable and hopeful, but not without pain.

In the end, I felt that Berlin is on its way back. I felt good about my visit and about the future of the Jewish people in that part of the world.  I spent an hour and a half in the Jewish Museum and I spent time with an Israeli guide who made “Aliyah” to Germany…and those few moments-in-time showed me promise.  Berlin has been a bad place; a very bad place for so long. But now its on its way to being a good place and lets all hope it continues to reinvent itself in the years ahead.