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Archive for May, 2009

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Meet Chuck Cook

The year’s first Mediterranean Golf Cruise sets sail tomorrow (with the second departure set for October 2)! And the Friendly Planet Travel office is abuzz with excitement for our cruisers.
As you know, Friendly Planeteers who choose to partake in the cruise’s golf programs will enjoy 10 days of the Chuck Cook Golf golf school. Programs include group lessons, personal instruction, a seminar led by Cook, and opportunities to play onshore in Spain and Italy.
Cook is an internationally renowned golf guru, and was recently named one of America’s 50 greatest golf teachers by Golf Digest Magazine.
In 1980, Cook started out as a range assistant in the earliest stages of the Golf Digest Schools, helping such teachers as Davis Love Jr., Bob Toski, and Jim Flick. Cook teaching career includes teaching five major-championship winners: Tom Kite, Corey Pavin, Payne Stewart, Bill Rogers, and Mark Brooks.
In 1996, Cook was named PGA America Teacher of the Year. He has worked with over 100 professionals, and numerous amateur champions of all ages. And now, he’s working with our Friendly Planeteers!
Bon voyage, duffers! Here’s to fabulous times and lower handicaps!

All aboard the MSC Sinfonia

If you’ve been clicking around on the Friendly Planet Travel Web site, you’ve probably seen our wide array of Mediterranean and Far East cruise vacations. And along with our list of cruise options is an equally long list of the cruise ships that sail them. In our new series, "All Aboard," I’m going to give you the full scoop on all of the ships that cruise with Friendly Planet Travel.
I told you about our Mediterranean Golf Cruise on Monday, and today I want to tell you a little about the MSC Sinfonia, that particular vacation’s cruise ship.
The MSC Sinfonia was inspired by the great symphonies of Europe’s finest composers, and offers a harmonious blend of culture, relaxation, and adventure. Elegant Italian ambiance abounds from every corner of the ship — from its polished woods and exquisite artwork to its upscale restaurants and first-class spa.
Each of the Sinfonia’s 777 cabins feature an inviting décor with warm colors, subtle lighting, tasteful furnishings, and comfortable amenities. They’re also all equipped with air conditioning, mini bar, radio, TV, 24-hour room service, a private safe, and an en suite bathroom.
While cruising through the Mediterranean, Friendly Planeteers enjoy the ship’s authentic Mediterranean cuisine at the Sinfonia’s two onboard restaurants, Il Covo and Il Galeone. And if you’re in the mood for lighter fare, the Café Le Baroque or La Terraza Buffet have an array of delectable items from the grill or pizzeria.
In addition to visiting some of the most beautiful ports-of-call in Italy, Monaco, Spain, and Tunisia, the Sinfonia also offers countless onboard leisure opportunities for both day and night.
While sailing between ports, golfers will be able to practice their swing in the golf simulators or fine-tune their skills on the miniature golf course. Breathe in the fresh Mediterranean air as you jog around the outdoor track or swim laps in one of two outdoor pools. Stay active in the Sinfonia’s state-of-the-art fitness center, while taking in panoramic views of the sea.
When the sun goes down, the Sinfonia’s nightlife comes to life, with a show at the San Carlo Theater, cocktails at the Buddha Bar or Manhattan Bar, a game of poker at the casino, or dancing at Pasha nightclub.
There’s literally something for everyone aboard the MSC Sinfonia. Amenities include:
Air conditioning
Satellite TV
Safety deposit box
24-hour room service
Two restaurants
Fitness center
Two pools
Jogging track
Tennis court
Basketball court
Pasha Discotheque
Video game room
Children’s play area
Beauty salon
Internet cafe
Cigar room
For more information on the MSC Sinfonia or any of our cruises, feel free to contact us. And stay tuned for the next cruise ship in our "All Aboard" series.

Customer testimonial: Paying hommage to Pyramids and Petra

Friendly Planet Travel’s Pyramids and Petra tour takes vacationers on a voyFP_Egypt.jpgage of discovery through the Pyramids of Egypt — the oldest and only Ancient Wonder of the World still standing — and the remarkable lost city of Petra in Jordan — one of the Seven New Ancient Wonders of the World. Friendly Planeteers get it all, in a single, inspired trip.

These two great sites are testimony to the perfection of design, architecture, engineering, and artistry of two glorious and ingenious cultures. Travelers can also take advantage of our Dead Sea extension, where they’ll enjoy the luxury of Moevenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, a five-star spa hotel at the shore of the world’s lowest body of water.
Two vacationers who just returned from our tour recently sent in a wonderful testimonial that I thought I’d share with you today. Here it is, verbatim as always.
"My husband & I just returned from the Pyramids & Petra tour. Words won’t do it justice, but I’ll give it a shot: The price–amazing! The guides–educated, accommodating, and excessively pleasant! The hotels–fantastic! The optional tours–A MUST! They were the best part of the whole trip, and a fantastic deal! The food–5 star! The touring coach–brand new, air-conditioned, & comfy! We were so thrilled with our experience with Friendly Planet, and all of their contractors, that we are already trying to decide which trip to take next! Thanks for providing such a top-notch experience with amazing people at such a fantastic price! We’ll be repeat clients!
— Amanda Poland, Front Royal, VA"

Attention golfers: Tee up for the Mediterranean Golf Cruise with Chuck Cook

Here at Friendly Planet Travel, we’re in the business of making people happy. And now, every duffer’s dream has just come true. Vacationers aboard our Mediterranean Golf Cruise, now have the opportunity to lower their handicap on ship and on the green with lessons from internationally renowned golf guru Chuck Cook.
The 10-day cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia includes stops at ports of call in Italy, Spain, Monaco, and Tunisia, as well as all airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, many meals, touring, and more for $2,099. May’s Golf Cruise is booked solid, but spots are still available for 2009’s last departure date in October.
And while you’re experiencing the marvels of the Mediterranean, you can cruise to a better golf game, too, under the expert guidance of Chuck Cook. The championship teacher will be conducting personal and group lessons on deck and on courses in Italy and Spain, capped with a nine-hole game at Golf Club Naples. Cook’s lessons are open to golfers of all experience levels, and you can sign up anytime onboard the ship.
The MSC Sinfonia embarks from Florence, Italy and docks at a new city each day, including Montecarlo, Monaco; Valencia and Ibiza, Spain; Tunis and La Goulette, Tunisia; and Catania and Naples, Italy, while it circles the Mediterranean Sea, ending back at Florence on the ninth day.
On their last night of the trip, vacationers enjoy deluxe hotel accommodations in Florence, located ideally within a short distance of many of the city’s major attractions, as well as the best shopping and dining in the "birthplace of the Renaissance."
In true Friendly Planet Travel style, the low $2,099 price includes all ports of call, airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, some meals, touring, and more. Book by May 27th to enjoy savings of up to $600 per couple included in the deal price. And there are no extra fees or surcharges if you choose to pay by credit card.
Once you book, choose from three superb golfing packages, starting at $434. Not sure which package is right for you and your travel mates? Talk it over and book right up to the last minute onboard the MSC Sinfonia.
This cruise was created with golfers in mind. But of course, you don’t have to be a golf pro to have fun aboard the MSC Sinfonia. As always, this cruise was designed with all the Friendly Planet Travel features our vacationers expect, without compromise. Where else could you cruise through some of the most magnificent waters in the world while working on your slice in the morning, and dining on delectable paella in a town like Valencia in the afternoon?
For more information, take a look at the Mediterranean Golf Cruise page on our Web site, or drop us a line.

Friendly Planet Travel on air on Around the World

Yesterday I had the great opportunity to join Arthur Von Wiesenberger on his radio show Around the World for the Santa Barbara News-Press.
During the program, I explain how to pack for an eight-day trip to Around the World listeners. I wrote about my six packing tips here on the blog, but it was incredibly fun to talk about it live on the air too! And Arthur is quite the charmer.
You can watch the full Around the World with Arthur Von Wiesenberger segment, or just tune in to my part of the show. Either way, enjoy!

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