Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dear Joe Gripp,

I decided to post a few questions from some of my favorite clients. I hope you find them helpful.

Dear Joe Gripp, Which cruise line is the best? I am planning a summer vacation for my family, and want to make sure my teenage children will enjoy themselves.

Thanks, Oscar, Holbrook, NY

Dear Oscar,

Believe it or not, all of the cruisline in business right now are great. Each cruiseline has its own target market. At Gripp Travel, we ask probing questions to try and find out exactly what you want out of your next best vacation, then present you with a cruiseline and itinerary that best suits your needs.

Royal Carribean ships offer you and yours a true "adventure" on board. Most of their ships are equipped with rock climbing walls, "Flow Riders" (Which are surfing simulators. Oscar, if you try this, make sure you properly secure your bathing suit, I lost mine on the first attempt. It was very embarrassing), ice skating shows, over the top entertainment, Dream Works characters onboard, and on some ships, zip lining!

I hope this helps, please let me know if you would like some brochures.

  Joe Gripp

Dear Joe Gripp, I just got engaged, and am interested in a destination wedding. What do cruiselines offer brides and grooms who want a simple wedding at sea?

Thanks, Anastasia, Malverne, NY

Dear Ana,

Many of the major cruiselines offer a full assortment of wedding packages. You can have the ceremony on board prior to departure, allowing your friends and family to be with you as you exchange vows, then disembark before the ship sets sail.

Other options include a ceremony officiated by the Captain on a day at sea, or have a beach ceremony at the island of your choice. Each cruiseline offers different packages that include flowers, photos, dancing, and drinks. You can have as much or as little as you want.

Please contact me for more information. We can make you big day, truly spectacular. Congratulations!

Joe Gripp

Dear Joe Gripp,

My life partner and I want to go on a cruise, but are nervous about being onboard a ship with people who may not be accepting of our lifestyle. We are from a metropolitan area, where same sex couples are accepted as equals. Is cruising a good idea?

Jimmy - NYC!

Dear Jimmy,

Cruisers come in all shapes and sizes. Cruising is very social, where in most cases travelers make new acuantences and enjoy being away from the stress of their everyday drama.

Cruiselines are very sensitive to the environment of the GLBT community. They typically host a GLBT Meet and Greet within the first two days of sailing.

Not ready for a mainstream cruise? There are a few promotion companies that offer GLBT cruises. They typically serve specific groups within the GLBT community, and offer specialized entertainment, and have gay friendly corporate sponsors. BEWARE- these cruises can cost almost DOUBLE the price of a regular cruise.

If you have any questions, please contact me at

  -Joe Gripp

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Customer Feedback!

Dear Joe,

I wanted to thank you for planning the perfect cruise for us. We had a wonderful time! You did a wonderful job in helping us choose the cruise that met all of our needs. You gave us great advice that really helped to make this vacation very special.
The Norwegian Star was a beautiful ship. The itinerary of the cruise was fantastic. We spent 3 days in port in Bermuda. This gave us the opportuntiy to really see all that Bermuda has to offer. It is a beautiful island with pink sand beaches, lovely towns, and plenty to see.
So, once again, thank you for your professionalism and for planning such a great cruise for us. We look forward to having you take care of all our future vacation needs!

Best Regards,

Scott & Carmine Rosen

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gripp's Travels - Aruba

Gripp's Travels - Aruba

"It never rains in Aruba" is what was written on every wall and sidewalk on our first visit to Aruba a few years ago.  This trip, not only did it rain, but the slogan was changed to "I Love Aruba" much in the style of "I Love NY".  

What makes Aruba Different than other islands?  The Divi-Divi trees, its desert like atmosphere, great shopping and size.  Travelers can see all the major attractions of Aruba in an 8 hour span. 

Our stay in port this trip was only about 6 hours, so our focus was on the attractions we have not seen.  We docked in Oranjestad, Aruba's capital city, and opted for a shore excursion offered through our ship (Island Princess).   Aruba is tourist friendly, we probably could have gotten more bang for our buck going on our own, but the time constraint worried us.  We let Princess do all the transportation arrangements, leaving us free of the worries of returning to the boat on time.

We we're picked up by a tour bus, then were driven around the island. "Papa" was our tour guide, who immediately bonded with our group, and provided us with a well appreciated summarized history of the island. 

First stop:

 The Butterfly Farm Home to hundreds of exotic butterflies. 

"You guys are so Lucky" said the butterfly specialist.  The rainy weather will provide us with the opportunity to see rain forest varieties of butterflies and moths, which normally don't come out in the sun. 

I started to silently sing Rain, Rain, go away! Come back another day!

How exciting can Rain forest butterflies be?

We sat through a 15 minute lecture, where we learned all the specifics about the lifespan of a butterfly.   We then took about 20 minutes to try and get a few photos - not easy! 

(Butterflies really don't follow direction well. )

We saw amazing sights, and now consider the transition from caterpillar to butterfly more magic than science. The picture above is of a cabinet used to protect the future butterflies and moths while developing

The Rain forest variety of butterflies and moths are absolutely stunning.   Maybe rain is not so bad?

Aloe Vera Factory -
Our next stop was the Aloe-Balm factory.  We were brought into a building, to an observation deck, that looked down into the factory and laboratory, much like the observation area of an operating room. 

Our tour guide explained what each machine did, what their products were, and brought us right into the retail store, where we were given the "Great Opportunity" to purchase their products.

 We learned that aloe is cheaper at CVS, Wal-Mart, Eckerts, etc. 

Ayo Rock Formations- 

Our tour bus and guide then transported us to the Ayo rock formations.  It was a series of boulders, and natural gardens a trail made of slate pieces. We took some pictures, stretched our legs, walked around, and then got back on the bus.  The formations are interesting to look at, but, there are other rock formations on the island that are far more impressive. 

We were back on the ship as promised, by noon.  We have now completed our list of the must see sights in Aruba.

We have not yet planned our next trip to Aruba, but we plan on spending at least a week at sipping frosty drinks on the beach, trying to figure out a way we can grow a Divi-Divi tree in our yard.

High Tides: (Aruba itself)

Great weather – even when it rains!

The Butterfly Farm

Friendly people

Safe environment

Nice blend of history, entertainment, and culture

Low Tides: (Specific to this excursion)

Low energy / low excitement activities

Tourist trap factory tour

Limited picture taking opportunities

Aruba is an exceptional vacation destinations.  Please do not let this review dissuade you from visiting this fabulous island.

We are currently working on Joe Gripps Guide to Aruba.  The document is a complete review of the island, activities, and resort suggestions.  

If you would like a copy of the information, or have questions about cruising, please contact us through our website:

More to come in our next blog entry Gripps Travels: Cartagena, Columbia