Downton Abbey hotel barge river cruise


Cruise holiday specialist Outdoor Travel has released six barge cruises on the River Thames which include tickets to see much sought after Highclere Castle, the film location for Downton Abbey.
A limited number of cabins are available on the 8-berth luxury hotel barge Magna Carta for cruises departing on 9th & 30th April, 9th, 16th & 30th July, 6th August 2017.

The cruise is from Hampton Court near Windsor to Henley on Thames, beginning in style with a champagne reception and ending with a Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Prices start at $5680pp, twin share. Price includes all meals, regional wines, alcoholic beverages, all sightseeing and admittance fees as listed, bicycles and other facilities on-board and return mini-bus transfers from meeting point to barge.


The 22 most bizarre questions clients ask agents

Is it just Americans, or do Australian clients ask their travel agents daffy questions as well? The question arises after the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) published a list of the 22 most bizarre requests received by agents before travellers go on holiday.

“Does the crew actually sleep onboard the cruise ship?” That’s one question. There are 21 others, including “Can you set it up so that the whales jump in the background at the same time I’m proposing to my girlfriend?”

In Australia, tour guides get asked some jaw-dropping questions as well. A few years ago, a guide at Uluru/Ayers Rock was with a group of tourists on a night tour, watching the large, full moon illuminating the landscape, when one of the tourists asked: “Tell me, is that the same moon we see at home in Idaho?”

Here is ASTA’s list, arranged in no particular order. ASTA (AFTA’s counterpart in the US) says these are “real requests made by real travellers and sourced by our ASTA agent membership”.

  • Can I fish off of the cruise ship?
  • Do they speak English in Britain?
  • Can I bring a 12 pack of Tab on the plane? (Agent responds: First of all, where did you find Tab? And no you can’t bring it on the plane).
  • Are there toll roads on the way to Hawaii?
  • Can you make sure I don’t get a window seat on the plane because I just had my hair done?
  • Can you set it up so that the whales jump in the background at the same time I’m proposing to my girlfriend?
  • I was looking online at the picture of our room. I hate the curtains. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep in that room with those curtains. Can you cancel the whole trip?
  • Don’t tell my fiancé this is where I took my first wife for our honeymoon.
  • I’d love a train trip to Africa…No, I mean I want a train trip from New York to Cape Town.
  • Guest in the aft of the ship… “Which elevator takes you to the front of the ship?”
  • I had a grandmother and granddaughter who wanted to visit China. When informed that they needed visas, the grandmother responded, “No we don’t.  I went to China with my church group last year and I was able to use my American Express card all over the country.”
  • Can you please book the honeymoon suite for us and another couple?
  • I want to take a cruise to Las Vegas.
  • Does the crew actually sleep onboard the cruise ship?
  • Can we drive our rental car in Hawaii out of state? We want to go to Alaska. After all, they are the 49th and 50th states on the map… so there must be a bridge, right?
  • I would like to go somewhere where there are NOT a lot of men.
  • I’d like to get married in the Caribbean on an island where the marriage is not legal in the US.
  • Will there be shadows on my face at 4 p.m. when the pictures are taken?
  • Will you watch my pet while I’m away?
  • How can I get to Europe without going by air or sea?
  • I’d like to visit Scotland and Denmark on the same trip. (Agent then tells client he does not have time in his schedule to travel the distance). But they’re only an inch apart on the map!
  • Can you ask the airline to block the seat next to me so I can stretch out?

Commenting on the questions, ASTA president and chief executive, Zane Kerby,  pointed out that consumers had a wealth of information available to them via the Internet.

“ASTA travel agents help consumers make sense of the innumerable internet ‘deals’, and know which local suppliers are worthy of trust. This list is proof that some consumers need a little extra help when they plan vacations, and that’s where we come in.”

Written by Peter Needham


roomsXML’s new Digital Service Team/

roomsXML’s new Digital Service Team roomsXML introduces a new digital service team – but is it all rosy at HQ?

Based on growth and service demand, roomsXML now have 40 after hours support team members in Pune, India and a further four support experts for the Pacific region in Melbourne.

Mark from roomsXML explains

“We are amongst the best when it comes to supporting travel agents. This targeted initiative will enable us to more rapidly resolve issues and let agents get on with with business.

“To introduce the staff we’ve created an avatar and video for each staff member and celebrate the diversity they bring to our team.


“Our new self-help leader is Colin from London. Colin is your go to man for general queries and helping yourself. He stood out in the interviews with responses like

“Well if you ‘ave a problem, we’ve just gotta $#^% sort sumfin out”.Yes, we need to work on his phone manner but he gets results.”

“Well if you ‘ave a problem, you’ve just gotta $#^% sort sumfin out” Colin, new roomsXML support member. But not all of the team are as accommodating as Mark with the new appointments.  Customer service manager Matt Paterson was less enthusiastic about Fergus, the new transfer expert.  “He’s definitely got

But not all of the team are as accommodating as Mark with the new appointments.  Customer service manager Matt Paterson was less enthusiastic about Fergus, the new transfer expert.  “He’s definitely got

“He’s definitely got great drive, but seriously, a swinger? “I heard he is more of a “short game” man.”

Rosetta Scicluna was less than thrilled with Pina the new Q-Push expert.

“She certainly knows how to get content to customers but flouncing around in her gym gear doing the Q-Push…. she probably needs a cold shower. “I just don’t think hot pants are good for a corporate environment. A little less cougar might be more appropriate.”

But National Sales Manager Sasha is very happy with the appointment of the intriguing “Madamoiselle”, appointed to manage agent discounts.

“Like everyone at roomsXML, she knows agents are special. She think’s she’s a little bit special herself but get in touch with her if you are after an agent discount.”