Dear Deal Detective:
As a retired detective myself, I think you're the right person to turn to for help. I'm one of approximately 40 retired members (including spouses) from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police "B" troop of 1956. We're planning a reunion for 2008 and have decided on a Mediterranean cruise. Since many of us are on fixed incomes, price is a factor. Any help or suggestion you can come up with will be greatly appreciated.
A cruise sounds like a perfect choice for your reunion trip. Because Mediterranean cruises are extremely popular, and therefore more expensive than Caribbean sailings, you should sail at either end of the cruising season for the lowest prices: April or May, October or November. You'll also find cheaper (but still pricey) airfare, fewer crowds, and fewer children onboard at these times.
I suggest you identify a travel agent that can help you. Travel agents are better equipped to get group rates, coordinate travel plans, and arrange for adjoining cabins and dinner tables. Do your own research to identify which sailings you're interested in and what average prices are, and then ask the agent if she or he can beat those rates.
Next, identify a group leader, which could be you since you've taken the initiative in writing me. The leader will coordinate the group members, send reminders, and generally be responsible. The group leader typically gets a free cabin, so be sure to ask your agent about this.
My last piece of advice is to book soon. Cabins fill up quickly, so you'll want to book early in order to get the cabin categories and locations you want. You'll also want to make hotel reservations earlier rather than later if you all want to stay in the same place.
From one detective to another ... good luck!
Dear Deal Detective:
My husband and I are adopting internationally from Ukraine. Due to the uncertainty of the trip length, we have booked one-way tickets from the U.S. to Kyiv. What is the best way to book a one-way ticket home sometime around the first of the year? All of the U.S. airlines and search engines we use do not allow our one-ways to originate outside of the U.S., and chances are good we won't be able to book 21 or more days in advance. Are we stuck with using a travel agent once we're in Ukraine or being at the mercy of the airlines?
Congratulations on the adoption to you and your husband. You shouldn't have any difficulty finding a one-way flight back to the U.S. once you arrive in Kyiv. In fact, there's a good chance you'll find a better price by booking on that side of the Atlantic.
I recommend a travel agency called Via Kyiv. One of my colleagues here at SmarterTravel.com is a former Peace Corps volunteer who spent three years in Ukraine, and tells me the Via Kyiv staff is both friendly and fluent in English.
Your other (probably cheaper) option is to book online with Aerosvit, the Ukrainian national airline. You can buy an e-ticket but you'll still have to pick it up at the office downtown. Aerosvit has daily flights from Kyiv to New York, where you can connect with a U.S. carrier of your choice.
To my other readers: If you need help finding a deal for your next trip, please email me your request. Be aware that due to the volume of requests I receive, I cannot always personally respond to every email (although I do try). The more compelling your question—and the more specific you are with your departure city and desired travel dates—the better the chance you'll be selected for an upcoming case.
All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.