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Friendly Planet Blog

Archive for January, 2012

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Making a very friendly return to Japan

Japan has been one of our favorite destinations for a long time. But we were forced to cancel all departures in March 2011 when one of the most devastating earthquakes ever recorded rocked the east coast of Japan. So in 2011, Friendly Planet Travel didn’t send a single traveler to this fascinating country.

But we’re excited to announce today that Friendly Planet Travel is once again resuming tours to Japan with a brand new series of departures on our Japan Panorama tour. We know it’s our time to return to Japan because you have been calling and writing to ask us when our departures would start. And for our part, we could not be happier to resume our tours. We know what a beautiful destination Japan is and how much it is appreciated by everyone who visits.

And on a personal note, tourism to Japan has truly suffered from the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunamis that followed. We can’t wait for our friends in the Japanese tourism industry to begin to feel the recovery by seeing the smiling and friendly faces of our travelers arriving to tour the country.

A recent survey conducted by the Japanese government found that 82 percent of Japanese people feel favorably towards the United States and its people. Visitors who go to Japan will sense the warmth and friendship as soon as they arrive in the country, along with it’s gorgeous scenery. Japan has dramatic scenery and ancient monuments juxtaposed with modern, sleek skyscrapers; sophisticated nightlife; and bustling cities.

Even more significant, its citizens are truly an example to the world of stoicism at its finest. When you see how the Japanese people have come together as a nation to help each other recover from devastation and loss, you will be touched and impressed. So there’s no better time than now to see what this beautiful country and its citizens are all about.

Check out our Japan Panorama tour to get all the details about where we’ll be going, what we’ll be seeing, and the fun things we have in store for travelers. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me or speak to a member of our reservations team at 800-555-5765.

Proof that it’s never too late to travel

Age isn’t anything but a number. That could be the motto of Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson, two friends who travel the world together and film it for their PBS television series “Grannies on Safari.” They’ve combined their love of people, art, and travel to make this Emmy® award winning TV series, sponsored by AARP.

When I heard Pat and Regina were going to be at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show, I jumped at the chance to have a member of our blogging team, Caitlin, sit down with them for an interview. I’m so glad they did and while we were together, we had them sign a few copies of their new book that we’ll be giving away on the blog. Stay tuned for details about that.

Caitlin asked Regina and Pat about their favorite places to visit, why they chose to feature women’s rights in their show, where we can look forward to seeing them next (which I was excited to hear!), and much more. Hit play below.

For more from Regina and Pat, check out some of the articles they’ve contributed to Huffington Post, their AARP blog, and their show website for the latest information on where they’re going next. Thanks so much for your time ladies!

Readers, keep your eyes on this space for our upcoming giveaway of two signed copies of Pat and Regina’s book, “The Grannies on Safari: A Travel Journal,” a photo collection of all the places they’ve been.

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Costa Concordia: What does it mean for you and cruising?

The tragedy of the crashing of the Costa Concordia on the coast of Italy has been front page news for over a week now. This has been perhaps the most deadly cruise disaster since the sinking of the Titanic.

There have been 16 confirmed deaths so far and even one death is one too many. There’s no excuse for the cruise captain’s negligence. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the disaster and what it will mean for the future of cruising. I answered some of them when I was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times about how the Costa Concordia incident will affect the travel industry, but I wanted to expand upon those answers here.

Q: How will the Costa Concordia incident affect the future of the cruise industry?
A: Although the incident might not deter avid cruisers, other vacationers might avoid cruising for some time. Incidents like this are rare in the industry, and all eyes will be on the cruise liners to see how they handle this and implement changes to improve passenger safety. Officials are reporting that this incident was most likely due to a misjudgment on the part of cruise captain. I predict cruise liners will be closely scrutinizing safety protocols and will be filling any potential gaps they see to ensure the utmost safety of their passengers.

Q: Does Friendly Planet Travel have any travelers booked on the Costa Concordia?
A: Friendly Planet Travel hasn’t sold any trips on Costa Cruises for a few years now. However, we do offer cruises on various cruise lines owned by Costa’s parent company, Carnival Corporation. Among the Carnival-owned cruise lines that we offer are Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean Lines, Celebrity, and Azamara.

Q: Should I cancel my cruise booking because of the Costa Concordia?
A: Avoid the urge to cancel a cruise you have booked because of this incident. Cruises are historically safe — safer than driving a car. The U.N.-affiliated International Maritime Organization lists 38 incidents involving passenger ships since 2005 in which more than 60 people died. Compare that to car travel, in which more than 100 people die per day. You have a better chance at getting struck by lightening — about 40 people die every year from lightening strikes, according to the National Weather Service. No one has called Friendly Planet Travel to cancel an existing cruise booking. Right now, Carnival Corporation and nine leading cruise lines around the world have announced a comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures, so they’re taking extra precautions to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Q. What can I do to be a better-prepared cruise passenger?
A: The very best thing that travelers can do is prepare themselves for various scenarios while on a cruise ship. This includes finding out where you should go on the ship in the event of an emergency, determining the location of life boats, and discovering the storage spots of extra life jackets and other supplies. Wendy Perrin, writer of the Perrin Post on Condé Nast Traveler, recently published a comprehensive list of things that travelers can do to prepare themselves while cruising. I suggest that anyone planning to cruise check out Wendy’s tips.

If you have any more questions about cruising, please feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.

The 2012 Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show: Videos to come

We just announced the winner of our Exotic Ecuador tour from The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show, but we have a lot more coverage for you that we’ll be posting on our blog.

Our blogging team captured a lot of video footage, which we’ll be rolling out over the coming days and weeks. Here’s a preview into what we’ll be posting. You can bookmark our Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show tag to see what’s coming next.

My presentation on the “Top 10 Affordable Destinations of 2012.” We recorded my presentation on Sunday, so if you missed it, you might want to watch and see what my #1 was. It’s one of my favorite destinations from this year.

My joint interview with Chris Elliott. I sat down with Chris Elliot, renowned consumer advocate for travelers. It’s our shared passion for making sure the consumer gets the best deal possible that makes me feel like Chris and I are kindred spirits. We chatted about getting great travel deals, the importance of traveler’s insurance, and our #1 travel tip.

Our Grannies on Safari interview. Our blogger Caitlin caught up with the Grannies on Safari at the show, and they were a riot. Regina and Pat told how they started their television show, and revealed what their next destinations will be.

Putting attendees to the test about their Philadelphia knowledge. Our blogging team quizzed attendees with some Philadelphia trivia, since the show was in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. We asked attendees how many travelers visit Philadelphia each year, what’s the most-visited tourist attraction, and then stumped them with pictures of famous faces and places from the city. I even took a stab at answering the questions myself.

We also have some giveaways coming your way from some of the show’s headliners. Friendly Planet Travel had a wonderful time at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show for the second year in a row. Keep your eyes here for videos, giveaways, and more that are on the way.

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Glimpse ancient, spiritual sites with Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimages


People have been traveling to places of spiritual or moral significance for centuries. These pilgrimages are usually personal journeys or important rites of passage.

We’ve been organizing pilgrimages for our travelers on an individual basis for some time now. However, more of our travelers have been asking about them, so we’ve put together 14 new pilgrimage tours.

All of these tours take travelers to places important to the Catholic religion. They span the map, from Italy to France to Spain. These pilgrimages have the same great affordability and value as our tour packages, while allowing travelers to visit ancient religious sites as well as experience the modern culture of these places.

We recently issued a press release announcing these pilgrimages. To get the full scoop, scroll down and read what they’re are all about.


FRIENDLY PLANET TRAVEL OFFERS NEW LOWER PRICING ON 14 CATHOLIC PILGRIMAGE TOURS FOR 2012

New pilgrimage program takes travelers to Israel, Germany, Poland, Czech, France, Spain, Portugal, Bosnia, Croatia, and Italy

JENKINTOWN, Pa. — (TRAVPR) – January 18, 2012 — Thirty years ago, Friendly Planet Travel, a leading tour operator that has helped thousands experience high-quality, affordable vacation packages to exotic destinations worldwide, began its business as a group pilgrimage operator. Over the years, the company has gained extensive experience arranging pilgrimages to fascinating spiritual and religious locales. Today, Friendly Planet Travel has expanded beyond its previous itineraries, and is announcing 14 new Catholic pilgrimage programs designed to go beyond the traditional pilgrimage experience. In addition, these new travel programs offer lower pricing that will place these important spiritual adventures within reach of many more travelers.

“We take pride in offering the best service at quality prices, and this policy applies to our new pilgrimage program as well,” says Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. “Travelers experiencing our pilgrimages will visit the most sacred Catholic holy sites and Marian shrines in the world. Plus, our programs will travel off the beaten path and into the picturesque towns along the countryside, exposing travelers to the cultural, artistic, and historical landmarks within these regions. Excellent exchange rates and land prices have allowed us to offer superior accommodations, itineraries, and services at a price among the lowest in the industry without compromising on quality. This is what differentiates our programs from others.”

All new pilgrimages include hand-picked, first-class and centrally located accommodations for excellent shopping and dining options; English-speaking guides; entrance fees; many meals; and an accompanying tour chaplain. In addition, these programs include multiple masses in ancient cathedrals and chapels, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and St. James Church in Medjugorje.

Friendly Planet Travel has eliminated as many one-night stays as possible and limited groups to 25 travelers, making for a spacious and relaxed touring environment. For example, all travelers will benefit from a window seat, as Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimages tour breathtaking sites of Biblical significance, such as the Sea of Galilee, the 14 Stations of the Cross, Vatican City, and the Sistine Chapel.

The 14 pilgrimages offer the Catholic experience of a lifetime by providing the chance to see major religious destinations throughout Israel, Rome, Italy, Spain, France, and other places in central Europe. Additional sites unique to Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimages include stays in Rocamadour and Avignon in France, Perugia and Cortona in Italy, Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Coast, and Regensburg in Germany. Featured pilgrimages include:

In addition to the 14 published pilgrimages, Friendly Planet Travel offers large and small groups expert customized travel services and personalized components, providing limitless opportunities for unmatched spiritual and cultural experiences for all involved. Whether it’s one of Friendly Planet Travel’s planned itineraries, or one that has been completely developed by and for a particular group, the services and pricing will be exceptional.

To learn about any of Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimage specials, departure dates, and full itineraries, please visit the pilgrimage page on the company’s website. For more about Friendly Planet Travel, please visit Friendly Planet’s website; Friendly Planet Travel’s blog; or contact Jackie Zima-Evans at 610-228-2138 (office), 215-534-2973 (mobile), or write to Jackie@GregoryFCA.com.

Press contact:
Gregory FCA
Jackie Zima
Associate Vice President
610-228-2138
Jackie@GregoryFCA.com

Company Contact:
Friendly Planet Travel
Peggy Goldman
President
215-572-9594
PMGoldman@FriendlyPlanet.com

The winner of our Exotic Ecuador tour at the 2012 Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show

I had a great time at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show this past weekend. One of the most exciting parts of the show was giving away our Exotic Ecuador tour to one of the attendees.

Hundreds of people put their names into our giant globe at the booth. Now that I’m back at my desk, it’s time for the big reveal. We’ve randomly selected one attendee. Drum roll please. And the winner is … Philip Justice from Philadelphia.

Look out for an email from me soon with all the details on how to claim your prize, when to plan your trip, my advice for what to pack, and more. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Thanks to all attendees for entering!

The sights and sounds of South Africa can be yours for free

We’re giving away a free trip to South Africa (seriously!) for one of our loyal Facebook fans as the first of six trip giveaways in 2012. For many people, this might be the first time they’ve considered a trip to South Africa. But whether you’ve been dreaming of taking a trip there for a lifetime, or this is your first time considering it, no one should miss out on this fantastic destination.

So I wanted to give travelers a little taste of what South Africa’s like and if this whets your appetite to go on safari, then you’re in luck. Click over to our Facebook page and enter to win a trip for two (a $8,600 value!) to this fascinating and one-of-a-kind destination.

Cape Town is the second most populated city in South Africa and one of the most multicultural and interesting cities in the world.

Located on the Cape Peninsula, the first records of occupation in Cape Town date back somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago.

Baboons are some of the world’s largest species of monkeys and can live for up to 30 years.

A native to Africa, did you know the elephant can pick up an object the size of a marble or a branch that’s a foot thick? That’s pretty handy!

The Greater Flamingo and the Lesser Flamingo both make Africa their home, and it has yet to be discovered why these flamingos often stand on one foot at a time.

Did you know the word “hippo” comes from the term “river horse?” Hippos communicate to each other verbally, so do you think these two are talking or playing?

When the cheetah runs, it can reach speeds of 70 to 75 mph — that’s highway speed for most cars!

Lions are very social creatures, and often travel in large groups called prides, where the females are the primary hunters.

And there’s more where that came from! Enter our Facebook contest for your chance to travel to South Africa, and see all this and more for yourself.

All images attributed to South African Tourism

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Older Posts »

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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