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1. Start smart! Call a local travel professional.

If you haven't worked with one before, ask friends or co-workers for a recommendation, or go to www.travelsense.org. This easy website is offered by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and gives you a simple way to search for a travel professional. You can search by zip code or look for a travel agent who specializes in a specific type of travel or a destination. You can easily find cruise specialists in the Grand Rapids area.

Travel agents will offer advice based on your specific needs:

* the best cruise line for your type of vacation

* the best ship for your needs

* the best cabin type and location

* the best itinerary

* the best prices (many travel agencies have better prices than what is offered online)

* some agencies are able to offer complimentary upgrades to better cabins

2. Passport? Do you need one for cruise?

Some cruise itineraries do not require having a passport. Those cruises that depart and return to the US generally do not require a passport. However, please keep in mind that if you needed to return to the US before your cruise is completed, it might require that you fly home from a foreign port. Best advice is to obtain a passport. They are valid for 10 years so it is a good investment in your traveling future!

3. Variety is the new face of cruising!

Choosing a cruise is no longer just selecting an itinerary. Cruises now offer:

* themed events

* concerts (rock and roll anyone?)

* gourmet cooking classes

* photography classes

* Dancing with The Stars

4. New cruise rules and regulations.

* Smokers beware! Many of the major cruise lines now or will ban smoking on balconies.

* Disney Cruise Line has changed age requirements

5. Have you been on a cruise?

When it comes to any type of travel, what you learned before, or experienced on a previous trip has probably changed. Cruise lines frequently change many of their options, especially the dining procedures.

Best advice: call your local travel agent for your best vacation ever!

Courtesy:

JoAnne Verboom

President, Travel By Gagnon

President, ASTA Great Lakes Chapter

4545 Cascade Rd

Grand Rapids MI 49546

(616) 942-6630 Office

joanne@travelbygagnon.com

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