Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Niche Travel

                            Niche Travel

                           November Newsletter,  Vol. 1, issue 9

                                           Travel & Cruise News  
                              & Items of Interest 
                               A newsletter from Rosswin Travel, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, BC

 Stornoway Harbour, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
painting by R. Ross


Niche Travel
10 Money Saving Cruise Tips
Artist of the Month
Dance a Thousand Hands (youtube)

Niche Travel
What is Niche Travel? When everyone in a group is interested in the same activity or belong to the same  organization and travel to-gather as a group. Niche travel can apply to cruises, tours just about anything related to going somewhere and doing something as a group. 

To-day we will focus on Niche Cruising
Niche cruises are usually booked on smaller ships, depending what your interest is, as they can go into smaller ports where the larger ships cannot go. With less passenger’s you might possible fill the ship with your own group as some of the smaller ships could hold as few as 35 or less passenger’s.  You could arrange your own schedule with the cruise line if your group was the only ones on board.  If you were a history group you could arrange to visit ports that are of historic interest, that have historic building etc.  Regardless of what you are interested in there can be a group tour arranged. 
Find a ship that will accommodate your group, and the whole focus on your trip will be your Niche.  Many Niche tour operators employ experts in your field and will act as guides, or bring aboard an expert yourself to give lectures. 
The small ship's will not have all the amenities that the larger ones have, such as Casinos, choice of different restaurants, entertainment nor all the people that you encounter on larger ships. If you want to enjoy a more intimate experience then think about a cruise on a smaller ship. 
 Do not forget river cruising, especially for the history buffs, think of cruising up the Danube and seeing all the castles and the wonderful old architecture along the way, being able to spend the day exploring the small towns along the way. 
If your group like’s to cycle then the different stops on a river cruise would be for you.  Some of the riverboat's have their own bicycle’s if not they can be arranged in the different towns.
If your niche is  ballroom dancing, Square dancing, lectures on certain subjects, anything that you do not need to go ashore for, then a larger cruise line can work for you.  Rooms can be arranged to hold your meeting’s and by booking early most of your cabins can be in the same section.  We were on an Multi Level Marketing tour last November, we had a room that we used for a couple of hours every sea day (sea day is when we are not docked in a port) for our speakers and we had a cocktail party for our group. Our table’s were all in the same section for dinner.

The list of niche sailing and destinations is almost endless.  A group can be a little as 6 and as high in number as the boat can accommodate. First decide on a destination and then research what cruise lines go there.  
So put on your thinking cap and plan that cruise you always wanted to go on. 

If any of this interests you, lets talk about it and see what can be done to put a plan together for your desire.

Feel free to contact me for more details.



10 Money-Saving Cruise Tips
Posted by Elissa Richard on October 17, 2012 at 3:45:40 PM EDT
Fodor's Contributor

Cruises can really be one of the best value vacations around, effectively bundling your lodging, meals, entertainment and activities, and transportation into one tidy, upfront rate. Like anything, the costs can add up if you don't cruise smart, so we put together 10 cost-cutting tips so you can maximize your cruising dollars. The best tip we can give you, though, is to make sure you budget in all the little things that aren't included, but that are still necessary—shore-side expenses and flights to and from port are two good examples.
1. Shop around for the best price. There's no true one-stop shopping destination to compare going cruise rates, so you'll have to check multiple sources (like cruise lines' websites and Twitter pages, trusted third-party cruise sellers and travel agencies, and deals-specialized websites) to secure the best deals and added-value promotions (i.e., free cabin upgrades or onboard credit). Just be sure to read the fine print to see if any additional charges (taxes, port charges) might ultimately up the cost of the quoted fare, and know what's included in the rates for the cruise line you book, before forking over your credit card. Better yet...
2. Use a cruise-specialized travel agent. If you don't have the time (or patience) to scour countless cruise offers, turn to a trusted travel agent. Cruising lends itself well to an agent's expertise. Knowledgeable specialists know the ins and outs, and can help match you to the ideal cruise line and ship for your tastes and budget, pick out the best cabins, and, since they buy in bulk and offer repeat business, use their leverage with cruise lines to get better rates and perks than you could likely find independently. Be sure to use a reputable agency that is affiliated with reputed outfits like the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Best of all, note that cruise lines typically pay travel agent's commissions, so you won't have to foot the bill.
3. Book early or during "wave season." The waiting game rarely pays off when it comes to cruising, with the best rates and preferred cabins going to those who plan ahead. Cruise lines are eager to fill up their inventory as far out as possible, and will lure in early birds with hooks like reduced rates, onboard credits, and cabin upgrades; luxury lines regularly post 2-for-1 fare deals and free airfare, too. Plan on booking your cruise trip at least six months out, and if you want to travel during peak times (summer or school breaks), a year in advance is better still.
Another good time to nab deals is during "wave season," from January through March, when cruise lines looking to book up the year ahead are met by winter-weary travelers yearning for some vacation light at the end of the cold-weather tunnel. Or, keep an eye out for specials posted during National Cruise Vacation Week, held from October 21–27, 2012.
4. Cruise during shoulder season. Shoulder season sailings—where moderate temperatures, minimal crowds, and reduced rates meet—fall into that magic window between high season (the most popular periods) and low season (when weather conditions and prices dip, and demand is at its lowest). Time your sailing right, and you can get the exact same sailing, on your dream ship, at a fraction of its high-season cost.
For the best bang for your buck in some of the most popular sailing destinations, try Alaska in May where, for enduring slightly chiller temps, you'll be rewarded with less rainfall than in summer, good wildlife viewing, and mountains still capped with snow. Or, beat the heat and the tourist crush by sailing the Mediterranean in September or October—if you're not big on beaches or buzzing nightlife, milder faller temps make for far more enjoyable sightseeing conditions than under the baking summer sun.
The Caribbean in late fall, meanwhile, at the tail end of hurricane season, is also rife with bargains. Cruise ships can easily change course to avoid the path of any brewing storms—you'll just need to have flexibility should itinerary changes be deemed necessary.
5. Shop around for airfare or cruise from your homeport. Getting to your embarkation port can be expensive, so be sure to investigate airfare expenses before pulling the trigger on your trip. Though booking airfare through the cruise line offers some insurances (like a better likelihood that the ship will wait for you if the flight is delayed), these fares are often inflated in the name of cruise line profit bolstering. Shop around for airfare independently to gauge the going rates, and be sure to factor in extra flight expenses for sailings that start and end at a different port. Or, save even more by choosing a cruise that leaves from your nearest drive-to "homeport" (with more than 20 operating in the US today), and forego the expense of airfare altogether.
#6 to #10 will be posted in my next newsletter

These tips are being posted on my facebook page ""


Artist of the Month

Saskia King

"Saskia's Studio”
Artist and fine art‘s teacher specializing in Oils and Acrylics in my private studio.

I was born in 1959 in Sloten, Holland. My love of paintings grew from countless hours of admiring the Old Masters hanging in numerous galleries there and drawing until my fingers hurt. In 1974 my parents and I immigrated to Canada. Work and a family kept me too busy until 1987, at which time I re-entered the art world with renewed energy. Being a self taught artist, I like to say that “I have learned everything the hard way, through practice, perseverance and self study”. In the process I have won 6 awards.In February of 1997, I opened “Saskia's Studio”, to give oil painting lessons. It has grown into a thriving studio where my classes and workshops focus on techniques and brushwork, colour theory, drawing, composition and style. I have also taught workshops and classes in the community. My own paintings are originals, old master reproductions or commissions. They have been sold to private and corporate collectors in Canada, Holland, England, USA, Costa Rica, China, Austria and Australia.
Quality and good taste is of foremost importance to me and I like to cover a diverse range of subjects with my artwork. My paintings are like my children, they must have a strong heart and soul so they can be felt as well as seen. I strive to achieve emotion with my paint through colour and light, with movement, and via nostalgia. If I fail in this, my paintings mean nothing and they will not be displayed.
To get inspiration I go for long walks in the woods with my dog observing nature’s fabulous colour schemes. Mostly my ideas come from warm feelings to a specific subject that I see. My mind is always in three places at once planning and trying to apply beautiful things into a painting. Eclectic is my nature.
What I love about painting is the ability to immortalize beauty onto a canvas so that it will never be lost and others can enjoy it also. When I succeed in my quest I am rewarded with good feelings of pride and accomplishment and relief as well, for it is always a stressful mission to achieve that extra bit of polish.
My family has lived in the Comox Valley since 1980 . My husband “Buster” is a carpenter who now builds elegant garden gazebos. We have hand-built our own home on a lovely spot and raised two sons there who have both become tradesmen and avid sports enthusiasts.


Dance of a Thousand Hands 


I will be glad of any comments or corrections or if you wish to see something that is of interest to you please let me know. Thanks, Rhoda
If you liked this please pass it on 

Rosswin Travel,  
1 250-338-6334 / 1 866-517-2113
420 Harmston Ave, Courtenay, BC, V9N 2X2

follow me on face book  for travel tips, pictures and comments. 
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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Group Travel

October Newsletter
Vol. 1, issue 8

                                                     Travel & Cruise News  
                              & Items of Interest 
               A newsletter from Rosswin Travel, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, BC

Glengarry, Ontario Scenes
Lancaster Wharf early to mid 1800's
painting by R. Ross, copied from a post card

Group Cruising
How to book an affordable cruise
Artist of the Month


                                      Group Cruising

Have you ever cruised or toured with a group before, many people believe that you have to belong to a club, organization, church etc before you can join a tour or cruise as a group, not true, you can form a group with friends, family, a Square Dance group, Gay Group etc. 

Group travel can be cheaper but that is not always the case, as sales can give you a better deal.
See a travel agent to book cabins with an existing group providing that group has available space, as long as there is extra rooms available you do not have to belong to that particular group.   Book a cruise through your travel agent with a group and enjoy what group amenities are available and once on board you can go your own way, just let the tour or cruise host know you are not going to join in any of the group activities.

Decide where you want to go and check with your travel agent to see if there are any group’s available for that cruise or tour.  

Forming your own group
Appoint a Cruise or Tour leader to keep track of names and numbers of persons interested in the trip and who will oversea the booking arrangements. If possible check with a travel agent who has handled group travel before and see what arrangements can be made, go to more that one agent if necessary and find one that you are comfortable working with. 

The travel agent will guide you on what to do. 

Find out where the cabins are on the ship, if you book early enough you can arrange to have the cabins close by and all on the one deck if you are all booking similar type accommodation. The earlier you book on a cruise line the more amenities you will receive, later booking have no extra amenities. 
 MLM Group Cruise  on the Carnival Miracle
You can organize a group with as little as 6 persons with some cruise lines. If you have booked extra space put out word that there is a cruise group that has berths available by advertising in a newspaper and on a website or facebook etc.

When selecting a cruise ship consider if there are going to be children in the group, then check which cruise lines have activities for children, is there cabins for the handicapped if you have someone that needs a wheelchair.  

Try to pick a cruise that will accommodate the needs of the group.  For example you would not want to book space on a Fun or Gay cruise when you have mostly seniors who would not enjoy the activities that would be planned for that cruise. 

If your group wants to meet for lectures etc then have your travel agent arrange for a meeting room, your group might also warrant a cocktail party. 

Give everyone a list of the excursions and try to arrange them before you leave to ensure your group will travel to-gather. 

On most cruise lines If you book 15 berths you get a free berth 30 berths a free cabin for 2. This can be allotted to the organizer or the money value divided among the group. 

There is good information on the internet on planning a cruise which should be checked out before you visit your travel agent, then you will be more knowledgable about what she is telling you and you will probably have a lot more question to ask.

This above information is only a very short summery of what can be done with groups, If you are thinking of forming a group please do your homework before approaching your organization etc as there will be a lot of questions and you will need to be knowledgeable to answer them. 

Please comment if you have any suggestions for group cruising or group tours that I should have covered. Thanks


Travel Tip

How to Book an Affordable Cruise

illustration,travel bargain,ship,boat,pen,man,swimming,woman,travel agent
Photo: Peter Arkle

Question submitted by Alex Bruno, Boston, Mass.

Trip Doctor’s Answer

Book through an agent. Cruise lines are strict about keeping pricing consistent across the board—so if you find a discount offered online, your agent should have access to the same rate. “The playing field is pretty level in terms of what vendors can sell a cruise for,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of When deals do pop up, they usually take the form of onboard credits, excursions, and other perks. Note the fine print: a lower price online could be for a different cabin category and may not include the same extras. Given the potential for confusion, it’s no surprise that 80 percent of cruisers still book through a travel agent, says T+L’s cruise editor, Jane Wooldridge. “If you don’t care what ship you’re on or where you’re going, you can buy a cruise like you would an airline ticket, and just grab a good deal you see online.” But agents can offer insight and advice that a website cannot. The best of them will be familiar with the features and quirks of a ship, will tell you if upgrades become available later, and may get you access to onboard welcome parties. (If you’re using miles for your flights, they can also help you obtain air credit.) “In general, you’re not going to pay more to book through an agent,” Wooldridge says—yet the advantages are clear.
Have a travel conundrum? The trip doctor is in. Send questions to
With thanks to Travel + Leisure for access to this article


Artist of the Month

Comox Bay Marina
Oil on Canvas
20x16 i

Debbie Salmon, Union Bay, Vancouver Island, BC,  

Debbie Salmon graduated form Kwantlen College with a diploma in Graphic & Communications, and has taken fine art lessons at the University of Concordia, Montreal, as well as privately. She began her art career at a textile company in Burnaby where she made logos and drew caricatures to be 

silkscreened on t-shirts, caps and jackets and sometimes sports bags. Three years later, Debbie accepted a job as a creative ad designer at one of the large newspaper chains in Vancouver. She enjoys being creative, seeking new ideas to make ads look special but her true passion is to sketch and paint.  Debbie also freelanced her skills by drawing illustrations which she sold to a high quality clothing company in Gastown to be silkscreened on their clothing.  Her artistic talent became known at an early age; her mother still had the picture that Debbie’s kindergarten teacher was most impressed with.  Debbie Salmon  has lived in the Comox Valley since 1992

She has painted in oils and acrylics for over twenty-five years and is diverse in both subject and media.
She focuses her energy on what is most important to her - inner peace - through her painting and in everyday life.
Her subjects are carefully chosen; she looks for both a challenge and inspiration.  She say she never stops learning, just as in life itself.

Go to to view Debbie’s work. 
“Art and life is a masterpiece”.

       Joke Time

I took my dad to the mall the other day to buy some new shoes (he is 66).
We decided to grab a bite at the food court.
I noticed he was watching a teenager sitting next to him.
The teenager had spiked hair in all different colours - green, red,
Orange, and blue.
My dad kept staring at her.
The teenager kept looking and would find my dad staring every time.
When the teenager had had enough, she sarcastically asked:
"What's the matter old man, never done anything wild in your life?"
Knowing my Dad, I quickly swallowed my food so that I would not
Choke on his response; I knew he would have a good one!
In classic style he responded without batting an eyelid ....
"Got stoned once and had sex with a parrot,
I was just wondering if you might be my kid."


I will be glad of any comments or corrections or if you wish to see something that is of interest to you please let me know. Thanks, Rhoda
If you liked this please pass it on 

Rosswin Travel,  
1 250-338-6334 / 1 866-517-2113
420 Harmston Ave, Courtenay, BC, V9N 2X2

follow me on face book  for travel tips, pictures and comments. 
"Like" my Rosswintravel fan page 
If you do not wish to receive these posts let me know by e-mail and you will be deleted from my mailing list. Please put in the subject line “delete"