Hi Cheryl: We had a good time on the cruise. The employees were probably the nicest we have encountered on any of our past cruises. The menu was limited compared to other cruises, but the food was well-prepared and had some out of the ordinary selections. They had a really nice buffet brunch in the main dining room on sea days which is something we hadn’t experienced before. The cabin was laughably tiny. They had it made up as a queen bed as we requested; however, one side was pushed against the wall and the foot of the bed was against the TV stand, so there was no way for one person to get out of bed. We asked that the beds be separated, and the steward came immediately. It was still pretty tight, but workable. Our only complaint about RC is the day time activities are so repetitive-lots and lots of trivia games. Of course, we knew that going in. If we could only have the HAL lectures, computer classes, and classical music on RC, it would be perfection.
John and Fran Thomas (clients since 2010) St. James City, FL About Royal Caribbean Cruise 7-2016
Rebecca Irvin – Newark, NJ (5 years as clients of Echevarria Travel) Thank-You for all that you did to make our cruse a success. words cannot describe the wonderful time we had this past week. Everything from start to finish was just great. Even the Roadway inn and sweets was a pleasant place to stay, from Sunday afternoon until getting us to the ship on Monday morning. They even picked us up Saturday Morning at the Ship and gave us a day room for $30 because our plane reservations was not until 6 O’clock that evening. Solomon enjoyed his cruise so much he was not ready for it to end. I commend you and Nelson for a fantastic job in helping us to make this vacation one to remember. Thank-You again
My wife and I had a good experience with booking our first trip with Echevarria Travel. Cheryl and Nelson Echevarria were very thorough from the planning of our trip to the return from our trip. During the planning, they consulted with us to learn about the things we enjoyed (i.e. active, arts) so they could recommend destinations and activities that would make the vacation very memorable and enjoyable. Cheryl had great follow-up and response time before, during and after the trip. Even when we had a few issues at the resort, Cheryl was very active of resolving the issues from her office. Also, Echevarria Travel encouraged a post consultation to see how they can improve on experiences for us and others in the future. I highly recommend utilizing Echevarria Travel Agency”
C Hall III 10/30/2017
We booked this awesome trip on cyber Monday, way back on November 30. I spent the past three years saving up for this trip, since hubby’s fiftieth birthday occurs in July. We could not travel this summer, as my parents are taking the family for a vacation to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary (which is in November, but obviously we like to celebrate early in my clan). Also, that is when everyone’s schedules permit… I asked hubby where he wanted to go so that I could price vacations, check our available dates, all that necessary minutiae. I wanted to give as many details as possible to my exceptional travel agent, Cheryl Echevarria Cheryl has booked several trips for us: Mexico, Ireland, smaller weekend getaways, my daughter’s flights to and from Ireland for her Study Abroad program. The Ireland trip required Cheryl to do some magic, as Hurricane Irene forced the shutting down of the airports in New York, so we had to fly to Chicago and could not return home for a few days. Cheryl had a hotel waiting for us when we got there. Anyway, hubby really, really wanted to take a Panama Canal cruise, but they are lengthier than our work schedules allowed, and there were none available for our dates. So, he told me he wanted a resort in Costa Rica or a cruise that met our date demands. We reviewed the options Cheryl sent us, along with perusing other opportunities; I sent Cheryl some things I found, asked her some questions, and we went back and forth a bit. Finally, we had it down to two cruises and two resorts. Hubby chose Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, leaving from Fort Lauderdale, and traveling to Belize City and Cozumel. We reached out to friends and family to let them know when and where we were going, asking if anyone wanted to join us. Two couples joined us, two couples with whom we enjoy spending time tremendously. Cheryl needed to assist us with several things. First, one of our party had back surgery two years ago and cannot walk without the use of a walker. Cheryl arranged for a scooter for her to use on board, which was a tremendous help. Also, many companies which provide active shore excursions freak out at the prospect of blind people doing their tours, so Cheryl had to ensure that the excursions we chose would not be ruined by morons who allow children to participate but who believe adults who are blind are not capable of ascertaining their own capabilities. Such companies do not have it as a priority to accommodate anyone other than the visibly able-bodied. Hubby and I wanted to go Zip lining, cave tubing, and couples parasailing. Cheryl was already aware that the company with whom Royal Caribbean contracted for such activities had given blind people problems in the past. However, she works with another company, Shore Trips, which was welcoming and accommodating. So we booked a combined Zip lining and cave tubing shore excursion with Shore Trips in Belize, (it came with lunch and transportation to and from the cruise terminal), and couples parasailing in Cozumel (we had to take a $15 taxi ride there and back). This was my sixth cruise, my first with Royal Caribbean. It was hubby’s fourth. It is tied, if not in first place, for our favorite cruise, and we would definitely book with Royal Caribbean again. Our balcony stateroom was the largest cabin we have ever had, and the balcony was also a bit more spacious, allowing for more comfortable chairs than usual, and actual space to move around with the two chairs and a cocktail table on the balcony. (Just a note for your fellow naughty people: the couches in the staterooms did not have removable cushions, so certain amorous activities on the balcony will have to be approached creatively if you want to maximize comfort and versatility.) There was ample storage space for our things, and a refrigerator where we could keep bottles of water. The elevators announced the decks distinctly. The track was roomy enough so that we could walk together around it without falling over fellow cruisers lounging on chairs to the side. The food was excellent, the shows were fun, and the service was friendly and exceptional. When we went to avail ourselves of a lesson on the surf simulator, the two gentlemen running it did not show the slightest signs of concern and did not say anything like, “Are you sure you want to do this?” or “We’re not sure this is the right thing for you.” Our experiences at the airport, as is usual, were somewhat aggravating. While it can be extremely helpful to receive, assistance checking in, finding the right security gate, and locating the correct waiting room, this absurd and infuriating concept that seems to permeate airlines that blind people should have wheelchairs to move about the airport never seems to die. They tried multiple times to have me use one; another time they wanted three of our party to use a golf cart while our friend used a wheelchair (which in her case made sense because walking long distances with her walker is exhausting, and she wanted to save her strength for shore excursions). It’s just a thing. We get lumped together, the same way people tell me “That’s not a handicapped stall,” when I go to the bathroom and have the temerity to use a regular stall. I covered this in my posts about people’s idiocy when it comes to blindness. We frankly wish our cruise had been a day or two longer. I have cruised with Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Princess. Royal Caribbean is in the top spot. A few things I want to mention because the people involved deserve my doing so: Levi and Donald from Shore Trips were exceedingly helpful and accommodating when we went Zip lining. They explained the process well and made us feel safe. Levi told me and two ladies in our group about a young woman in a wheelchair who desperately wanted to go Zip lining, but was turned down by other companies. Shore Trips did not turn her away. It took four people going along with her, but they did it, and this Zip lining involved five separate Zip lining trips with several significant climbs on steps of varying sizes and widths, as well as walking across a swinging bridge. The highest point was about 100 feet above the jungle, and part of that was over a river. Just a little extra information: there are lots of crocodiles in Belize. I also want to mention our driver and one of our cave tubing guides, Abner. Not only was he helpful, informative, and attentive, but quite funny: “Protect your guide at all times. That is the rule. If we run into a jaguar, make a tight circle around me before you take your pictures.” When we went cave tubing, there were points where we needed to lift our derrieres off the bottom of the tube or we would “receive a free butt massage”. We were told “Butts up! Stretch and squeeze!” and “We tell ladies butts up, and men, nuts up!” At two points, one during our short trek to the Zip lining platforms and later during our thirty-minute trek through the jungle to the cave for tubing, we were shown termite nests hanging on trees. They were huge. “They have a minty flavor,” Abner told us, as he grabbed a few and brought them over for our inspection. We took is word for it. “I’ll try them if you have some dipping chocolate,” I told him. When we went parasailing in Cozumel, the two gentlemen in the boat were very helpful, and again explained things very well. One of them took hubby’s iPhone and snapped some shots of us, as well as video of us coming in. We ate at the King Lear dining room on Deck 5, and although all of the servers were wonderful, we especially appreciated Emma for her attention to detail and her sense of humor. Additionally, when we went to watch one of the shows on board on Tuesday night, the cruise director announced that the show would be starting fifteen minutes later. The female lead had become ill after the conclusion of the first show, so they needed to rearrange the show a bit. If he had not said anything, we never would have known that there was a problem. It was a professionally done show with not a hint of a glitch. The level of anxiety that at least some of the performers and behind-the-scenes folks must have had to deal with under the circumstances had to be formidable. They did a terrific job. I only have two major complaints, and they really did not diminish our trip at all. First, it would have been nice to go through Royal Caribbean for our shore excursions. It is quite frankly shameful that the companies with which RCI contracts are not more accommodating to people with disabilities. If we were able to book the cruise’s excursions, we would not have had to wait on line to get tender tickets to leave the ship in Belize. (In some ports, the ship “tenders” rather than docks. This means you must use a gangplank to move from the ship to a “tender” or a boat that brings you from the ship to the terminal. Hubby went down at 7:30 to ensure we would get tickets on one of the first boats, but the distribution of tickets did not start until 8:30. You could not get them ahead of time. For those who booked tours through RCI, no waiting for tender tickets was necessary, and they were transported first, regardless of the time of excursion. Luckily, Shore Trips and other shore excursion companies are aware of this. Still, it caused unnecessary concern and wasted some of our time, and hubby was the one who waited on line to get all of our tickets. (Our traveling companions enjoyed other activities; we did the Shore Trips excursions on our own.) The second thing which bothered us was that we really wanted a professionally done photograph of the six of us. Several were taken, but when we went to look at our pictures, my man noticed that I caused a shadow on half of his face. This is something a good photographer would have caught, and frankly, we suspect that different crew members take turns taking photographs of guests and do not have professional training. When one of our friends asked about editing it, she was told it would cost $10. Talk about an incentive to screw up photos! Here’s a creepy tidbit related to photos: They have kiosks where you can swipe your stateroom key card, and all pictures with you or anyone in that stateroom would come up, including ones you did not ask to be taken. Cue the freaky music. When hubby was checking out our pictures to determine which, if any, we would purchase, he was trying to get to a few particular shots. He was having some trouble moving back through the photos. A man walked over and asked if he needed help. Immediately after that, another man walked up with a stack of photos: our photos. He had seen hubby looking at them and printed them out. I love cruises. I am in love with the ocean: its sound, its feel, its smell. I sleep better on a regular basis on cruises than I do anywhere else. I have zero insomnia on a cruise. I keep the balcony door open most of the time for the sound. I love to find quiet spots and just let myself feel and hear the ship and the water and the wind. I want to try a river cruise; they are smaller, and I do prefer the ocean, but I want to experience it. They are incredibly expensive, however, so I suspect it will be some time before we get around to that. My parents have booked our family trip: another cruise, with Carnival, frankly because it was the only option which worked within their budget, for the dates which accommodated everyone going, and which addressed the varying ages of those of us traveling. An eight-day cruise, and I am very happy about that. If you have never taken a cruise, and it is something that you are interested in doing, I highly recommend booking with Royal Caribbean. Get in touch with Echevarria Travel; they will hook you up. If cruises aren’t your thing, don’t worry. Cheryl will find the right fit for you.
Christine and Gary Grassman – Merrick, NY (clients since 2010) review of Royal Caribbean Cruise for April 2016
Dear Cheryl and Nelson of Echevarria Travel,
Rachael and I would like to thank you for helping us plan and put together our dream vacation. We had the time of our lives in Florida and have so many cherished memories we will never forget.
Your expert knowledge of the 6 Disney parks and all the other them parks (Sea world, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, and the other water parks) was impressive, very helpful, and greatly appreciated. As a blind couple we were especially impressed by your knowledge of all the “blind friendly” things, from the handheld descriptive devices to the best rides, shows, restaurants, and hotels.
We also want to thank you for all the extra time and effort you put into finding and booking all the behind the scenes, hands on, animal encounters. Rachael was especially thrilled as she had never before been able to touch and interact with animals other than pets or those in a petting zoo. It was awesome! We got to pet and feed giraffes, kangaroos, a buffalo, a manatee, a sloth, a rhino, a hippo, a giant tortious, seals, sea lions, a walrus, birds, and many other great animals! However, the highlight of all our animal encounters was swimming with the dolphins at Discovery Cove! All total we spent 4 hours with them and it was very moving. Rachael Cried tears of joy! After our time with the dolphins we went to the wading pool where we feed and touched a shark and other fish. Rachael got to name a horseshoe crab and I was even hugged by a stingray!
Thanks to you, it was the best vacation we’ve ever had. It really shows that you care greatly about what you do and the people you do it for. We gladly give you 5 stars and two thumbs up! We will also definitely go to you for our future vacations as well as recommend you to all our family and friends!
Thanks again and God bless you,
Heath &Rachael Clavin
We used Echevarriatravel for our Rome vacation in August 2017. They were very professional and catered the trip to our specifications. We had wonderful time. They booked our flights, airport transportation, hotel and tours. We would use them again! Thanks Cheryl and Nelson and Maxx!
Valerie and Edwin White, Sr. Spring Valley, NY