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Things to know before traveling abroad

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Just because I wanted you to know…

*Big Brother is watching! This week I received a great email from Rhonda Lawson of the Department of Homeland Security thanking me for the Mobile Passport app travel article that helps travelers expedite immigration when they returning to the United States after international travel. She also mentioned that the service is actually available in Atlanta, so before you go out of the country, whether to Mexico, the Caribbean or Europe, don’t forget to download the MPC app, create a profile and , when you land, open the app and answer the questions to receive a QR acceptance code. Then, in the immigration hall, look for the Mobile Passport Control sign because it’s in Atlanta!

*It’s probably a really good thing to have Big Brother watching, because on Tuesday I got a call from a nice customer who had bought a ticket to California in April. Reviewing his credit card bill, he noted an additional charge of $486.50 labeled “travel agency support”. He called to question the charge using the 800 number provided on the statement. Needless to say there was no assistance provided on the number so he called me.

Because our trade magazines had just published a long article on fraud in the airline market, I knew this trick. It seems that cyber predators have not only hacked into credit card accounts, but have gone so far as to create fake websites that look completely genuine for all major airlines. For example, if someone Googles “Delta Tickets” or “Delta Air Lines Reservations,” they might call or possibly end up on one of these scam sites instead of the official Delta site. Fraudsters will sell a ticket, but, in a separate charge, a service charge will appear. Watch your credit card bills, hackers are getting better! Your mom understood when she said, “Don’t talk to strangers!”

*Now let me give you an example of a travel agency going the second mile to protect you: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has started a process whereby the passenger list for each sailing is checked against the names in the database national sex offender database. If a registered sex offender is discovered on a Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, or Azamara Club Cruises sailing list, the traveler’s reservation is canceled and the passenger cannot obtain a refund. While some may argue that civil liberties are under threat, Royal says their goal is to make cruising a safe environment for families.

*Oh, and speaking of safety, Royal Caribbean Cruises now has lifeguards in all pools on all of its ships. Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line said it also has lifeguards on its large, family-oriented ships – Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic – for this summer.

*Pride of America is sailing to Hawaii again! Norwegian’s Pride departs Honolulu every Saturday on a 7-day itinerary that includes overnight accommodation in Maui and Kauai. After two years, how nice to have this service to show us the islands again. Call to book soon because Hawaii is the hottest destination on the market right now.

*St. Lucia steps up her resort game. Sandals La Toc is adding the ever-popular Rondoval Suites while Sandals Halcyon Beach is also getting four Rondoval Suites and 20 beachfront villas. probably has something to do with the arrival of a new competitor on the island. The St. James Club Morgan Bay Resort is currently being renovated and transformed into SECRETS St. Lucia. With 5 restaurants, 5 bars and lounges, 2 oceanfront pools, a picture-perfect beach, and 342 rooms, SECRETS is vying to be the coolest new all-inclusive for adults on the island.

* Viking Cruise Line’s 25th Anniversary Sale ends May 31. That means free air from Shreveport or Jackson and their free drink package on Europe river cruises is over! Hands down, folks, there’s no better time to plan a Rhine or Danube cruise than now during this promotion. Prices are as low as $1999 – and, again, that includes airfare from Louisiana and a 7-night cruise to Europe!

*Please note that many countries now require a booster dose at least 14 days before travel if you have been fully vaccinated more than 6 months before your trip. Check your vaccination dates, probably more time than you think has passed since your last injection. Some of our major travel agencies recommend the booster dose to avoid any challenges in entering the destination country or taking advantage of the many wonderful opportunities that travel offers.

*All aboard! It’s the last call to save on a Rocky Mountaineer train trip this summer: the deadline is June 30. Valid on rail travel within Canada or the U.S. route from Denver to Moab, travelers can currently save $200 per couple if you call Monroe Travel Service at 323-3465 and book early. Go ride the silver rails and also enjoy a deal.

And, finally, just because summer is here…and you have to go, please call Monroe Travel Service. We would love to send you back!

Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at MONROE TRAVEL SERVICE. For your next vacation, please call Rob, Page, Linda, Lori or Dianne at 318 323 3465 or email [email protected]