Oh No! Corona Virus! Should I Cancel My Vacation?

cruisers

Ciao Friends!

First off I wanted to let you know that the picture here has nothing to do with the Corona virus but I know you would rather look at something pretty than a technician in a lab coat.

Now, this Corona virus is all over the news and several of my clients have had concerns, mostly because there have been a couple of cruise ships affected and these have been all over the news as well, making the situation look like a MASSIVE PANDEMIC THAT WILL KILL US ALL!

So the question is: Should I cancel my vacation?

First of all let’s keep this in perspective.

The Corona virus is not wide spread despite what we are hearing. World wide there have only been approximately 73,000 cases over the entire planet. Compare that with the flu virus which, according to the CDC is expected to infect 26-36 million people and possibly to kill 14,000 to 36,000 this year.

To date only about 2,000 people have died from the Corona virus. And of the people infected, the death rate is very low.

Only around 15 people have been confirmed with the virus in the US thus far and they are under so much quarantine that we may never see them again. (Ok that was hyperbole to make a point.)

And yet for some reason, the virus has been upgraded to “epidemic” status by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the Who (World Health Organization).

You can see more data on this virus and how it affects the travel industry in my Youtube video on the subject.

Because I am seeing so much hype on this, I researched what factors exactly determine when and whether something is upgraded to epidemic status. The determining factors I found incredibly vague and undefinable.

According to Slate.com, The CDC’s official definition of an epidemic is: “The occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time.”

Ok, What?!? What does that mean exactly? How does anyone know how many cases of anything are expected and in how much time when a virus first shows up? I don’t mean to be critical but shouldn’t there be some hard numbers or percentages attached to something that affects so many people?

There is sooo much hype on this particular virus and one wonders why. It appears that it is under good control due to the measures implemented by the Chinese when it broke out. Also the death rate is way lower than the flu which weighs in at about a 7% death rate of those affected every year.

That said, I received word recently that since the virus has been upgraded to epidemic status, a new set of circumstances with regard travel insurance enters the picture.

Yesterday I was in discussion with the people at Allianz which is one of the top carriers for travel insurance. I was told that because this virus has been upgraded to epidemic status, that literally NONE OF THEIR PLANS WILL COVER ANY PART OF IT. Apparently epidemics are specifically excluded from almost all insurance plans when dealing with travel.

I have clients who were worried because we have put together a complex trip for their entire family consisting of a cruise, land tours, transfers, hotels and the whole nine yards. They were super concerned that if enough clients cancelled their cruise, the cruise line would cancel the sailing leaving them stuck with flights, hotels and other non refundable costs.

So I called the cruise line and asked about these particular sets of circumstances. I was advised by the agent at Celebrity cruise lines that never in the history of their business have they ever had to cancel a sailing because not enough people were booked through.

It is my personal feeling that if people did cancel they would simply have a huge sale on the affected sailings and some lucky people would get magnificent deals on these cabins.

Again, let’s keep this in perspective. Although the cruise industry has been in the news a lot lately over this virus, there have only been two ships that I know of that have been affected.

There was one Royal Caribbean ship that worried that it had Corona onboard and turned out not to or that it had one depending on which hysterical news sources you listened to.

Then there was the Diamond Princess which continues to be in the news because the passengers were placed under quarantine after some cases were confirmed on the ship.

This was only ONE SHIP affected and yet the media has been having a field day, frothing at the mouth and creating fear and panic for anyone who was thinking of sailing.

Over 20,000,000 people cruise every year, most without ill effects.

So let’s look on the bright side.

NOW IS THE TIME TO GET MASSIVE DEALS ON CRUISES!

First off it is Wave Season, This is the time of year when the cruise ships all compete for your business and try to entice you into booking trips for the rest of the year.

With this added weirdness about cruise ships and this Corona virus, you can pretty much bank on the fact that there will be massive deals and promotions where you can benefit from your research and knowledge of what is really going on.

So if you are planning on cruising any time, CALL ME! Let’s dig up the best deals!

 

 

What to See on a One Day Trip to Corfu, Greece

Achilion view

Ciao!

A few weeks ago, Pete and I boarded the Azamara Pursuit (A cruise ship with the Azamara cruise line, and yes they are Azamazing!)  and set off on a fabulous journey to the Greek islands.

This was our first visit to anywhere in Greece and we have to say we loved it. And our favorite place? You guessed it! Corfu!

Of all the islands we visited, we found Corfu the most enchanting.

Of course one day in Corfu is never enough however, if you choose a tour in the morning you still have all afternoon to do a ton of other fun things. Here is what we loved.

Achillion Palace
Achillion Palace

The Achillion Palace

Prior to coming to Corfu, Neither Pete nor I had ever heard of the Achillion Palace, nor had we heard about the lady who had it built, the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, nicknamed Sisi.

Sisi, a young, shy girl from Bavaria first visited the home of the 23 year of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria  in 1853 after his overbearing and oppressive mother had decided that he should marry Sisi’s sister.

This marriage was not to be however, as once Franz Joseph laid eyes on Sisi, he fell in love and defied his mother’s wishes stating that he would marry Sisi or not marry at all.

Sisi Statue
Statue of Empress Sisi

The two were married in April of 1854 and Sisi went from a relatively unstructured life in Bavaria to the highly regimented and suffocating life of the Hapsburg court.

Sisi was never allowed to raise her children as they were taken from her by her mother in law at their birth.

On a visit to Hungary in 1857, Sisi lost her daughter Sophie to illness. This caused even more stress and depression as she was then blamed for her daughter’s death by her mother in law who, by all accounts appears to have been a throughly hateful creature (my two cents).  Sisi never recovered from her grief.

Later Sisi gave birth to her only son Rudolf. Years later in what appeared to be a murder suicide, Rudolf and his lover were killed. This was a crushing blow to Sisi and left her in even deeper melancholy for the rest of her days.

Garden of Achillion
Garden of Achillion

According to our tour guide, Sisi’s health had never been good but after the severe oppression of her narcissistic mother in law and the loss of her children, Sisi’s physical and mental health declined further.

At the advice of her physician, Sisi came to Corfu for the climate which proved to be beneficial to her health.

Enchanted by the island, Sisi had the Achillion Palace built in 1890.

The palace is built on a hilltop and has sweeping views of the Mediterranean.

Statue in Achillion garden
Statues in the Achillion Garden

Achillion became her refuge from the court and her unhappy life.

The Palace itself is a whimsical blend of mythologies. It’s interior is richly painted with murals and decorated with cupids and other motifs.

The garden is small but lovely and has sitting areas where one can contemplate the sea, the mountains and the trees.

Sisi in mourning
Sisi in mourning dress

After a sad life, Sisi was murdered by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni who had decided that in order to be famous he would have to kill someone famous. Unfortunately the original target of his murderous plot was absent from Geneva the day he exercised his insane plan and he noticed Sisi and her entourage. Our tour guide told us that at that point he did not even know who she was, only that she was famous. He approached her in a friendly fashion and stabbed her garnering fame for a short time and becoming famous solely as a poster boy for Bedlam (Ok, I made that Bedlam part up but seriously, What a jerk!)

For awhile after the stabbing, Sisi appeared unharmed as the black garments that she wore since the death of her son hid the blood.

A short time later she fainted and a doctor was called. He arrived too late to save her.

Sisi's murderer
Sisi’s murderer, a ridiculous man known only for being a cowardly shit head

The palace itself is a thing of beauty and a snapshot into a long gone era.

The drive to the Achillion Palace is also very beautiful in that it winds around clusters of pine trees and sweeps of crystal blue Mediterranean.

It is a lovely tour and a beautiful way to spend a morning.

Fish plate ceramics
Gorgeous ceramic fish plate

Shopping in the City Center

Corfu’s old town/city center is beyond charming. The shops seem to burst their seams and spill their contents out into the streets. The street themselves are lined with marble stones creating an almost dreamlike beauty that leads you forward to the next little via or street filled with color and excitement.

Corfu old town
The Old Town of Corfu is beyond charming

Throughout the old town, look for fruit and vegetable markets. Follow your nose and the scent of lavender, it grows profusely in Greece and all kinds of lavender products are available. I picked up a couple of tiny bottles of lavender oil for relaxation. Ironically I paid over $50 for some scented oil on the ship but the little bottles I bought were 2 Euros each. Ok, now I know.

Fruit and vegetable market; Corfu
A fruit and vegetable market in Corfu
Fruit and vegetable market
More fruit. It is gorgeous here!

A great gift idea for all those people back home is packaged spices. They are authentic and take up very little room in your luggage. If you have people who love to cook, these little treasures are like bringing them an authentic Greek meal. I always pick up several packages of various spices when I go anywhere.

EAT

Greek food, I have discovered is one of my all time favorite cuisines. The rice dishes, the seasoned and grilled meats, the chick peas, cheeses and pastries Oh  My!

Chicken Souvlaki Spears
Chicken Souvlaki spears! YUM!

One of the signature dishes in Greece is Souvlaki which is another name for Shish Kabob. These are spiced perfectly and grilled to deliciousness over an open flame. To top it off they give you an aromatic rice dish or fries.

After a warm day of sight seeing, salty fries are the best.

Seasoned sausages
Deliciously seasoned sausages

I loved the food all over Greece. I had some of the most memorable meals there. Everything was fresh, creative and delicious. I think I might have to create a restaurant tour of Greece soon.

Hop On Hop Off
Hop On Hop Off Buses are so handy!

The Hop On Hop Off Bus

Corfu is lovely but if you only have a day, use the Hop On Hop Off buses. I love these buses. When new to a city I like to take this bus on a complete tour of the city to see what sites I might want to visit more closely later.

Then when you have determined what you want to see more of, board the bus and get off at the stops you want. When you are done, wait for the next bus and hop back on. This is an ingenious way to see so many things in a short time and it saves lots of wear and tear on the feet.

Mediterranean Corfu
Crystal blue Mediterranean

Swim

Corfu has a stunning coastline and spectacular beaches. If you go to the West side of the island you will find beautiful sandy beaches and if you go east, you will find pebbled beaches. Either way the water is crystal clear and impossibly blue.

Honestly there is so much to see in Corfu that a day is not enough. Pete and I do want to go back soon and spend more time.

However when you are on a cruise and only have a day, we found  this one to be really enjoyable.

So when you are ready to plan your cruise to Greece, Contact us! We found an amazing deal with Avoya Travel and Royal Caribbean and are going back next Summer. Perhaps you want to join us?  [email protected]