Free Stuff for Families to do in Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines Family Trip

Free Family-Friendly Attractions in Des Moines

My husband had to pick up his new work van in Des Moines this week, but we were coming in late and had to return home upon delivery. That left us with about an hour to burn, with five kids ranging in age from 5 to 19. It really wasn’t enough time to make a paid attraction worth the entrance fee, but there are a few free attractions in Des Moines (besides parks) worth seeing.

There are 5 main freebies in Des Moines for families:

 

  1. State Historical Society of Iowa
  2. John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
  3. Iowa State Capitol Building
  4. Des Moines Art Center
  5. Better Homes & Gardens Test Gardens

(I’ve seen a few pages list the Iowa Hall of Pride as a free activity, but it isn’t free for adults.)

Neither the art center or the test gardens were open during our visit, and we’ve already been to the sculpture park and historical society, so it made the choice fairly simple.

Iowa Capitol Golden Domes

Visiting the Iowa State Capitol

Walking up to the capitol building, our 5-year-old started giggling, “We’re going to the golden castle!” and I completely understand why! Iowa’s capitol building has five domes skillfully covered in paper-thin gold leaf, glistening like a beacon to all who enter the city. In fact, it is the only state capitol with five domes, demonstrating an opulence visitors witness inside and out.

Why Is a Visit to the Iowa State Capitol Great for Kids?

  • It’s impressive. Carved wood and granite columns, massive murals sprawling across walls and ceilings and the awe-inspiring interior of the dome make children’s jaws drop to the mosaic-covered floor.
  • It’s intriguing. Last week, our 16-year-old was asking about the makeup of the government. We talked about legislature at the state and federal level. Here was a perfect opportunity to show him where so much of our law-making really happens. In addition, there are numerous exhibits inside the capitol presented in ways that appeal to children, from a model and presentations on the Battleship U.S.S. Iowa to the display of dolls based on Iowa’s first ladies (now sporting its first First Gentleman, our current governor’s husband, Mr. Kevin Reynolds.
  • It’s quick. Sometimes children don’t have the patience needed for a long tour. We buzzed through the state capitol in about 30 minutes total, not counting time spent investigating the grounds, going to the bathroom … or posing for photos.

Why You Should Schedule a (Free) Guided Tour

Parking and admission to the Iowa State Capitol is free of charge, and tours – should you choose to go on one – are free too. However, if you have a large family group (10 people or more) they do require at least 3 weeks advance notice. If you just show up like we did, you can join a prescheduled tour or go at it on your own with a free detailed map available from the gift shop that shows you where you can go and how to get there. Tours last about an hour and a half and weren’t scheduled during our travel window.

Best reasons to go on one? Dome access.

Who Shouldn’t Go to the Capitol?

Kids (and adults) who are afraid of heights might struggle with the experience, from the ground floor’s steep staircase to the first level to navigating the promenade to the top. Taking the spindly spiral staircases to the Whispering Gallery at the very top might be asking too much. (Children under age 6 and people with heart conditions or asthma are not allowed on that portion of the tour.) 

Other Des Moines Freebies

  • Pappajohn Sculpture Park is one of the coolest spots in the Metro, with several large-scale art installations to inspire awe, fear and everything in between. Tours can be arranged through the Des Moines Art Center two weeks ahead of your visit. However, this is a real park with plenty of space to run, roll and play. (The only thing I don’t like? Trying to convince multiple children at once to keep their hands off the “equipment.”)
  • State Historical Society of Iowa has a little something for everybody. There’s an interactive playroom for younger children with legos, coloring stations and other activities. Exhibitions vary greatly, from mammoth bones and pioneer history to the state’s impact on elections and entertainment.
  • Des Moines parks offer residents and visitors a tremendous amount to do and see. One of my favorites is Pirate Cove park located near the corner of 3rd Ave. and 24th St., complete with rustic Moai head sculpture (a la Easter Island) and pint-size pirate ship. Driving into the Saylorville Lake area is also quite impressive, and the campgrounds are clean and have modern bathroom/shower facilities.

Planning a Trip to Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa’s capital is a great choice for a 1- to 3-day getaway. There isn’t a wealth of free activities, but the few the city offers pack and punch. In addition, there are several notable paid attractions perfectly suited to visiting families, including:

  • Adventureland Theme Park
  • Living History Farms
  • The Science Center of Central Iowa
  • Blank Park Zoo
  • Boone Railroad
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Seven Oaks Recreation Center
  • Iowa Hall of Pride

Special events are where the city really shines, starting with the Iowa State Fair in August, minor league baseball and arena football games, and high-quality children’s dance and theater performances held throughout the year.

Want to get away for the weekend? Heading through the Midwest with the kids and not sure what to do? Get in touch if you’d like help planning the perfect Des Moines getaway.

Disney Dining packages are open!

Disney Fans Know This “Limited” Offer Isn’t a Joke

Some hotels are already sold out, so if you’re interested in a room package with dining included, Get In Touch!

Remember, Disney’s Toy Story Land opens June 30, and fast pass reservations are now open. Start planning a memory-making vacation today.

Incredibly Delicious Kid-Size Offer

Book Through
August 1, 2018Valid Travel Dates
Arrivals most nights May 28 through August 30, 2018

Important Details

  • The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Tickets are valid for one theme park per day (unless Park Hopper Option is purchased) and must be used within 14 days of first use or by December 31, 2019, whichever comes first.
  • Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.
  • Kid(s) must stay in room with adult.
  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Disney dining plans exclude gratuities.
  • Children ages 3 to 9 must order from the children’s menu, if available.
  • Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.
  • Theme park admission is required for some dining locations.
  • Offer excludes the following room types: suites, 2-bedroom villas, 3-bedroom villas, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Cabins at Disney’s Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Treehouse villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.

Last Chance to Save on Select 2018 Adventures

Take advantage of this last chance offer to make a lifetime of family memories and save up to $250 per person on select Adventures by Disney vacations when you book before September 1, 2018 for departures May 24 through October 18, 2018.

Last Chance to Save on Amazing

Adventures by Disney 2018 Vacations

Now is the time to take advantage of limited time savings on select 2018 Adventures by Disney vacation packages.

Create magical memories as you discover the beauty and excitement of destinations in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia; or explore several European countries while cruising down the Danube or Rhine Rivers on a magnificent river cruise. Book your adventure before September 1, 2018 for departures dates May 24 through October 18, 2018.

Save $250 per person on the following select Adventures by Disney vacations*:

River Cruises

  • Danube River Cruise
  • Rhine River Cruise

Please note that river cruise packages must be booked 14 days prior to applicable departure date. Not all stateroom categories are available for booking.

Asia, Africa & Australia Vacations

  • Australia
  • China

Central & South America Vacations

  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
  • Peru

Europe Vacations

  • England & France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Italy & Amalfi Coast
  • Norway
  • Spain

North America Vacations

  • Arizona & Utah
  • Disneyland Resort & Southern California
  • Montana
  • Philadelphia & Washington D.C.
  • Wyoming

Save $150 per person on the following select Adventures by Disney Long Weekend vacations*:

Long Weekend Vacations

  • New York City Long Weekend
  • San Francisco Long Weekend

Please note that land and long weekend vacation packages must be booked 30-45 days prior to applicable departure date, depending on itinerary.

Important Details

*The per person per reservation discount is taken from the non-discounted prevailing rate as quoted on AdventuresByDisney.com on the date of booking (“Regular Rate”). Regular Rates vary by departure date and time of booking and are subject to change. Regular Rates are based on double occupancy. All Guest names required at time of booking. Courtesy holds will not be accepted without compliance with standard payment terms. The number of river cruise staterooms and spaces on land packages available for this offer is limited. Excludes river cruise suites and category E staterooms. The AdventuresByDisney.com website is not updated in real time; availability is subject to confirmation at the time of booking with Adventures by Disney. Discount not applicable to deposit. Valid on new bookings only. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers, discounts or promotions. Offer is not transferable or redeemable for cash in whole or in part. Void where prohibited. Offer is subject to change without notice. Bookings subject to restrictions and Adventures by Disney’s standard Terms & Conditions.

Did Disney Intimidate a Young Family With AR-15s?

Is Disney Cruise Line a safe choice for my family?

Recently, a YouTube vlogging family began posting videos about a horrible experience they had with Disney Cruise Line. It’s left people wondering if Disney Cruise Line is safe. The mom claimed their family was forced out of the terminal into the heat to wait for their luggage after she was denied passage for being too far along in her pregnancy. The videos went viral, and as happens, the story devolved into “Disney’s armed guards threatened my babies.”

You know I take the treatment of cruise passengers very seriously and have no problem calling companies out — or cutting them off. 

Disney? I’ve looked into this situation. Remember, not too long ago I was a newspaper editor. I have a “nose for news,” and this seemed suspicious from the get-go. I did my research, and here’s what I discovered:

  • Mom was denied passage because she’s too far along in her pregnancy to cruise
  • The family became unruly
  • Police were called to remove them from Disney’s terminal
  • The officers who arrived are with Port Authority. They are always heavily armed because they are protecting a US point of entry.

Mom is denied passage for being “too pregnant.”

Most cruise lines won’t allow pregnant passengers to board if they’ll reach the 24th week of gestation during a voyage. It’s an insurance issue. It’s a health issue. Disney is known for being a stickler for the rules, but few lines will budge on this one. The combined risks (financial, health, reputation) are too great. Also, because Disney attracts so many families, they go above and beyond to draw attention to this issue during booking, in your paperwork and during online check-in. The mom says someone else booked the trip, and apparently this person didn’t know how far along she was.

What about that doctor’s note? The mom had received a note from her doctor clearing her for travel. The staff at the doctor’s office offered it to her in case she would need it. Disney’s website and their customer service line are clear that a doctor’s note will not suffice.

The family gets disruptive.

Mom left the boat, and the whole family came with her. Staff tried to get her permission to board for about half an hour. That’s no small investment when there are other passengers who need to be helped, and it reinforces my belief that Disney does try their best for their customers. They couldn’t do it, and then things got heated. Dad “raised his voice” and officers were called.

The family didn’t share this footage. What they show is a stressed out worker who has already called the police being filmed while the grandmother asks something like, “Don’t you have Disney training?” I understand why this woman ran out of Pixie Dust! 

Armed guards force family into the heat.

The mom says she’s not upset for being denied passage. She’s upset her family members were treated “like animals,” forced out into the hot Miami sun with their kids, without any water, and made to wait for two hours while Disney returned their luggage.

If you’ve been on a cruise, you know it can take several hours for your bags to get to your room. That’s what happens when you load several thousands of suitcases on a boat at once. I’m not sure why the family expected their luggage right away. The time is took is not an indication that Disney was being vindictive. It sounds like they wanted them gone as soon as possible.

There was also plenty of time before police were called and officers arrived that they could have gotten water or called an Uber (or a travel agent) to set up a hotel room somewhere else. Possibly they thought they wouldn’t be made to leave, and that could mean staff called the police prematurely. Still, they had strollers, they had cell phones, it was a relatively short walk to find shade and something to drink. 

What about the AR-15s?

I’m not a member of NRA. I feel there is a real need for improved gun control (not mass gun removal, not complete obliteration of the 2nd amendment, simply improved laws). I’m also one of those parents who wouldn’t be thrilled with an AR-15 near my child. That said, Port Authority is heavily armed all the time because they protect a US point of entry. The officers didn’t bring extra weapons to intimidate these people.

A cruise port is similar to an airport. You should keep that in mind whenever you’re trying to resolve a problem.

So, is Disney safe?

© Disney

I wouldn’t hesitate to book a Disney cruise for my family.

However, do keep in mind that the company has a reputation for being sticklers. You shouldn’t expect to be an exception to their rules. I’ve seen people removed from deluxe resorts, Epcot restaurants, the parks and now, a cruise. 

Disney is wonderful at creating those magic moments, but it means keeping everyone in check. If you’re the type of person who really hates that kind of restriction, talk to me. We’ll find the perfect cruise line for your family. You also  might decide it’s worth reigning in your rebel for a week or two to let the little ones have an experience that is totally awesome!

Also, I’d like to note that it’s been reported Disney is refunded their cruise fare. That’s pretty unheard of, so the company is going above and beyond. As of Monday night, the mom said they hadn’t done it. It’s not an immediate process though, and it wasn’t clear whether she was saying they hadn’t already refunded the money or hadn’t agreed to do it.

Did the Disney cruise family do this for views?

I’ve had people comment to me, “They just want more views for their vlog.” Unlike a blogger, vloggers often get paid every time someone watches one of their videos, and at this point tens of thousands have tuned in to see what happened. It’s possible this was a publicity stunt, which is why I’m not linking to their channel and why I’m hoping readers won’t watch the videos. As a travel professional, this incident could possibly affect my income. 

At the same time, I doubt it will hurt Disney’s business much. 99.9 percent of the people saying they’ll never sail Disney now probably wouldn’t have done it anyway. The other .1 percent won’t be able to help themselves! Four words: Star Wars at Sea.

Why did the whole family miss the cruise?

There are a lot of people saying, “What is wrong with this woman? Why did she deny her kids and siblings and parents and all this cruise?” I see why her husband and children got off the boat. Her parents and siblings, not so much. They needlessly missed out. The grandparents could have taken the little ones and let the parents have a romantic week to themselves before their next baby is born. Lots of missed opportunities here, folks. 

Of course, if they’d used a travel agent…

In 2016, Disney Cruise Line guests can experience the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga for the first time aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship in a brand-new, day-long celebration during eight special sailings: “Star Wars Day at Sea.” The event combines the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising for an out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other. (Matt Stroshane, photographer) © & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd.

Interested in Star Wars or Marvel Days at Sea?

Contact me for more details.

The Importance of Bucket Lists

The Importance of Bucket Lists

I’m four years older than my mother was when she passed away. Every year the pull to ‘go and do’ gets a little stronger. It’s not just about ticking items off my bucket list. I feel increasingly more aware that my children are watching – my daughters are watching – and I know they’re also at risk of watching their goals go unfulfilled.

One of the biggest risks of the job as a travel agent is getting swept up in the latest training or destination. Last week, I really wanted to cruise to Cuba. This week? That new Yucatan cruise and safari looks simply sublime. But is this really what I want to do with my time? I’ve never been a big fan of the heat, so neither Mexico nor Cuba have been lifelong goals.

Maine, Alaska, Iceland, the Arctic and Antarctica… much more my stride.
Ireland, Scotland and Norway, of course, are the lands of my ancestral homes.

I want to race sled dogs and explore caves and I want to live long enough to see my children fulfill dreams of their own.

The Benefits of a Bucket List — Write it Out!

The problem with all of this, of course, is that life gets in the way of our plans. Writing down your bucket list and making it a priority will help ensure that it happens.

It’s also a bit like a shopping list. Instead of being distracted by someone else’s top destinations, you’ll be quick to put a deposit down on your bucket list items when they go sale.

Give your Bucket List to an Agent

Most people don’t have time to comb through ads waiting for this to happen, so connect with a caring travel agent who will! Feel free to email me your budget, your vacation dates and your must haves, and I will get in touch whenever there’s a deal.

New Disney Cruise Deals – Fall/Winter 2018

Always wanted to take a Disney Cruise?

New Disney cruise deals have made it even easier to fulfill your dream of taking the family on the high seas during fall or winter of 2018. Wave Season is ending, and with it some of the best deals from every cruise company, including the Big D.

Disney Dream out of Orlando/Port Canaveral

  • September 3, 2018, 4-Night Bahamian Cruise, from $916* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11A Standard Inside Stateroom
  • September 17, 2018, 4-Night Bahamian Cruise, from $856* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11A Standard Inside Stateroom
  • October 19, 2018, 3-Night Bahamian Cruise, from $774* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11A Standard Inside Stateroom
  • October 22, 2018, 4-Night Bahamian Cruise, from $1032* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11A Standard Inside Stateroom

Disney Magic out of Quebec

  • September 27, 2018, 7-Night Canadian Cruise (from Quebec City, Canada), from $1610* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11B Standard Inside Stateroom

Disney Magic out of New York

  • October 24, 2018, 5-Night Bermuda Cruise (from New York), from $1045* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11C Standard Inside Stateroom
  • November 24, 2018, 6-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise (from New York), from $1056* per person based on double occupancy, Category 11C Standard Inside Stateroom

Disney Wonder out of San Diego

  • September 30, 2018, 5-Night Baja Cruise (from San Diego), from $1140* per person based on double occupancy, Category 9C Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom

Disney Wonder out of Galveston

  • December 14, 2018, 7-Night Bahamian Cruise (from Galveston), from $1925* per person based on double occupancy, Category 9C Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom

*Rates in US dollars. Subject to availability and categories may sell out. Other stateroom categories available at varying fares. Other restrictions may apply. Taxes, fees, port expenses, gratuities and excursions are not included. See Disney Cruise Line Brochure for applicable Terms and Conditions.

Must Book by March 31, 2018.

Ready to book your cruise, or simply find out how much OBC is available for your preferred dates? Email Odd Birds Travel today!

How to Decide Where to go on Vacation — Without Getting Stressed Out!

Humans are hungry for choices, but studies repeatedly show that more options make decisions harder to make. Worse? Research also tells us the more options we have, the less satisfied we are with the outcomes.

In 2018, we have more choices for destinations and types of travel than ever before.

Avanti Destinations founder Harry Dalgaard says travel specialists have a spiritual obligation to ensure their clients enjoy their trips as much as possible. Given the most important aspect of our jobs – the ability to tailor suggestions to your interests and budget – it seems like we have a pretty good chance of doing just that.

But we can’t succeed on our own. Travelers need to change how they approach trip planning in order to get the most out of every dollar they spend.

Learn how to decide where to go on vacation in just a few simple steps:

Check Your Head

Scientists say most people struggle to enjoy their decisions because they’re busy thinking about what could have been. During trip planning, they want everything to be perfect instead of simply enjoyable.

“Best” destinations do not exist. There is not one locale you will enjoy to the exclusion of every other place on Earth. Learn the value of feeling happy in the moment.

Set Your Budget

I’ve talked before about how much you should spend on a vacation. Half of your fun money per month is a safe investment for most families. Others will make travel more or less of a priority.

Money issues has been a theme for this week. There have been clients who saw deals online and expected me to beat those prices (which didn’t include taxes, fees or airfare in some cases) and others who simply had no idea what information was needed to give them a price.

Have a rough budget to help your travel agent select the best options for your trip. It will also help you filter out deals on travel websites, if you choose to book your travel yourself.

Stick to a Theme

Why are you traveling? Is it to celebrate? To relax? To find inspiration? To grow as a person? Make that motivation your mission statement and ensure every leg of your trip supports it.

A few weeks ago, I helped a mom and dad who wanted to take their kids to Orlando. They wanted to hit Disney, but then they wanted to add Universal… then Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. And you can’t forget Legoland! They wanted to pack so much into such a short time that their goal of sharing the magic of Disney with their children went by the wayside.

Not surprisingly, they decided to put their trip planning on hold.

I also had an older dad looking for a family cruise to an “extra” sort of destination. Japan. Antarctica. Somewhere exciting the family had never gone before. Unfortunately, his budget didn’t tap into some of the best deals available, but he rolled with it and has happily put down a deposit on a trip of a lifetime.

It doesn’t cost anything to work with a travel specialist while designing your next vacation. And we’re paid a commission by suppliers once we book your trip, so don’t be shy. We help make it easy to decide where to go. Next time you’re thinking of getting away, be sure to request a quote!

New Cunard Cruises 2020: Oceans of Discovery

Cunard 2020 (and late 2019) dates released

Take an in-depth look at the Queen Mary 2 in the video above.  

Cunard is a British cruise line with a long history and a tilt toward tradition. It’s not the right choice for every traveler. I have to admit I’m more excited about Silversea’s All-Inclusive packages and Disney’s new Adventure itineraries.

That said, I am drawn to the legacy that brought us the RMS Lusitania, and I like the idea of taking a Transatlantic voyage the way it was 100 years ago. Cunard makes it easy to check them off your cruising bucket list by exceptionally priced 2- and 3-day voyages between Southampton and Hamburg.

They’re also known for building inspiring itineraries, which hasn’t stopped with this new season.

Hello, Japan!

While South America, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea get a lot of attention during 2020, there’s no denying an upward trend including several new voyages to Japan. Four of 10 maiden voyages are to the region. There are a few other surprises as well. Israel, Dubai, Cape Town… Cunard is pairing several of its most popular ports with pre- and post-cruise tours.

Added to the Bucket List

Voyages from Japan to Russia and Alaska, en route to Canada

19 nights from Yokahama to Vancouver (Q016) May 15, 2020 to June 2, 2020, aboard the Queen Elizabeth

group pricing from $3,039 per person

Ports: Yokohama, Hakodate, Otaru, Korsakov, Kodiak, Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Tracy Arm, Inside Passage Scenic Cruising, Vancouver

Best yet? A man called me about three weeks ago looking for a 7- to 9-Night Japanese cruise, and the new lineup has both. I love being able to follow up with exactly what someone is looking for. THIS is why you use a travel agent people. Now, to book those cabins…

Learn About New Destinations and Early Booking Discounts Now

Click above to download the 2020 Oceans of Discovery e-flyer.

Dissatisfaction Grows With Celebrity Cruise Line

Photo by Eddie Gault: A pair of curious penguins inspect a video camera left near the the Auster Rookery near Australia’s Mawson research station in Antarctica by Australian visitor Gault.

On the Way to the White Continent

Antarctica has been on my bucket list since I was a child, so when I first learned of the ships setting sail for the southernmost continent I started building a budget in my mind. I knew it would be expensive, and in truth, the first expeditions cost far beyond what I could hope to make in a year’s time, but as more companies saw the promise of those ultra-exotic – if ice-bound – ports, I also saw those fares drop.

I haven’t made my affinity of Silversea Expeditions a secret, so I was shocked last November when the Silver Cloud – newly retrofitted to handle the demands of the Southern Ocean – canceled its maiden voyage to Antarctica. The ship suffered engine failure just off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Argentina, and a fuel pump could not be delivered in time to stick to even a modified schedule.

Without pause – or need for protest – Silversea offered full refunds on the $16,000 per person fare, in addition to covering “as well as organising and paying for flights back to Buenos Aires and on to guests’ airports of origin. It also offered overnight accommodation and expenses in Buenos Aires, a refund of outward air fares, and a discount on future bookings…” according to The Telegraph, as reported by CruiseLawNews.com.

Senior Vice President of Silversea Expeditions Conrad Combrink wasted no time in apologizing to their passengers for, in his words, failing their guests. “For us it’s simple logic,” wrote Combrink. “We don’t want to send a ship when we are not 100% sure it’s ready… We will lose Antarctica, which was the primary focus of this voyage, and it’s not going to happen.”

Celebrity Infinity Propulsion Issues Plague Jan. 21 Sailing

The response couldn’t have been more different from the aftermath of the failed cruise Celebrity Cruise Line recently took to the White Continent. The Jan. 21 voyage aboard the Celebrity Infinity left passengers fuming. Disgruntled passengers allege the ship suffered propulsion problems, exacerbated by bath weather, which resulted in missing two major ports, pulling into a third past dark, and traveling in unsafe condition, and crew members intimidating women who complained, among other issues. The cruise line has returned 1/14th of the fare for the voyage — though many passengers report even that amount is coming up short.

A Shocking (Lack of) Response

Angry passengers have taken to social media using the hashtag #CelebrityCruisesFail on social media. You can subscribe to the group’s newsletter from their Facebook site. Members provide information on communication efforts as well as the legal endeavors passengers can join. The voyage falling apart was a tragedy. Celebrity’s reaction? A travesty.

These aren’t wild claims drudged up by a group of grouches. Travel agents were alerted during this cruise that future itineraries were changing due to the propulsion problems and that the Celebrity Infinity would be drydocked beginning April 2. In fact, passengers of the Jan. 21 sailing were alerted via email that there were propulsion problems and they were removing a port from the itinerary. The cruise line has repeatedly refused apology or further compensation saying the additional problems were due solely to weather. Passengers disagree, and now that lawyers have been brought in to manage the problem, it will be interesting to see where this difference of opinion will lead.

One hopes Celebrity Cruises will do the right thing and offer compensation equivalent to what was missed, in addition to an apology. If not, they might soon find the luxury of ignoring customer complaints online has ended. Passengers congregate online, sharing horror stories — and deals from alternative travel suppliers.

Find the Right Alternatives

I know cruise-goers love Costco, and for good reason. The company can provide you with some of the lowest fares available from budget and premium cruise lines and mid-level resorts around the globe. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing BUT you might miss out on higher-caliber experiences within the same price range.

I recently attended a training session with Victory Cruise Lines, a provider of coastal cruises in the Great Lakes and Canada, Alaska and now new immersive trips to Cuba and the Yucatan peninsula. They have a tremendous 2-for-the-fare-of-1 promotion right now. It’s just one of the fantastic deals you won’t find on Costco and other online booking engines.

More importantly, if you book online, sites like Costco probably won’t warn you about the sexual assaults happening in Nassau (avoid jet ski operators!) or be able to help you rebook your vacation in record time if you’re given short notice that there’s a problem.

There are plenty of wonderful options if you’d like to get on the road – or return to the open seas – this traveling season. Take advantage of the extra protection a travel agent provides by booking your next trip with Odd Birds Travel.

Trouble on the high seas?

Passengers on Celebrity Infinity Antarctic Cruise 21 Jan 2018 missed almost their entire opportunity to witness Patagonian wildlife. Celebrity admit to propulsion problems but then blame weather issues and refuse to negotiate leaving many passengers vowing “never again” – see #celebritycruisesfail on Facebook and Twitter for details.

Keep your eyes peeled for a more indepth blog post later in the week. UPDATED.