Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We used Cheri Ozimac to set up our Seabourn cruise round trip from St Maarten in January. Everything about her arrangements worked perfectly. However, beware of customs in St Maarten. We really enjoyed the pre-cruise hotel that she recommended.

Though we really enjoyed our Seabourn cruise, we did not feel service was always up to their 6-star ranking. We shared details with Cheri, who shared with Seabourn, and we did get a personalized response from Seabourn.

Cheri is now our go-to travel agent for luxury cruises.

Traveler celebrating his birthday at La Samanna, St. Maarten.

Jeff Bland celebrates his birthday at La Samanna, St. Maarten. Photo: Traveler Susan Bland

We have utilized the services of Cheri Ozimac for a few years now. She is always on top of all the details that make our trips so wonderful, and of course, Cheri’s boss Mary Jean Tully is on Wendy’s WOW List.

This trip was a cruise on Seabourn Ovation to several Caribbean Islands, February 25 to March 10. We flew to St. Maarten a day early so we wouldn’t be exhausted from our flights, which I absolutely recommend. We booked the hotel Seabourn had a negotiated rate with, Belmond La Samanna. I found myself wishing we had arrived even a day earlier to enjoy this resort: well located by a pristine beach, with excellent food and service. We dined at L’Oursin to celebrate my husband’s birthday, and our server brought a bit of flash with a sparkling firework. Great way to celebrate!

On the negative side, our arrival at the airport in St. Maarten was grueling. While a portion of the airport is modern, we didn’t experience any of that: Disembarkation was by a ramp into the hot sun, and we were then loaded onto buses and unloaded to join a very long, snaking line filled with other new arrivals from several other flights. This was outdoors; thankfully, they had shaded the outdoor area where we were waiting with a couple of fans to help move the air, but it was still hot and sticky. We spent over two hours in that line and finally cleared Customs, only to encounter another 45-minute delay waiting for our bags to appear. It was very exhausting and a time waster; we lost the better part of the afternoon dealing with all this. Interestingly, when we departed from this same airport we were in their fairly new facility, air-conditioned, and places to actually sit and wait for our flight. Until they have room to accommodate all flight arrivals, I strongly recommend avoiding this airport.

Our cruise was delightful. Seabourn does its best to spoil its passengers, and almost never do we find anything amiss. We had an unfortunate situation in the middle of one night: My husband was awakened at 1:00am when he heard water dripping. We investigated and found water coming from the ceiling and flooding the floor. We called Guest Services and they promptly got the engineers to investigate and shut off the leak. It took until 3:45am for them to very quietly do the repairs, clean up and put things back in place. Impressive work! We know that ships have all sorts of things that can go wrong, and aside from a lost night of sleep, all was well.

Entertainment is top drawer, food and beverage selections far above other cruise lines. We were fortunate to get to dine at the newest venue: Solis, featuring Italian dishes. It was excellent and we look forward to dining there again on our next trip. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but we love the sushi bar onboard. It’s small, which is why I shouldn’t rave about it, with very personalized service from delightful servers, and so unique we dined there several times.

All in all, another successful trip!

This is the second cruise we have had through Mary Jean Tully’s office. Both times we worked with the fabulous Cheri Ozimac. This last cruise was actually booked 3 times before we actually took it because it was first cancelled due to Covid, then the second version was cancelled by the cruise line (pulled the boat out of the water), so this was the third time poor Cheri had to book a cruise for us to New Zealand/Australia. She was wonderful, despite having to redo this over and over, including obtaining refunds. The third time was indeed a charm and everything went perfectly. She had to field a variety of questions from us beforehand and always had clear answers. We have already booked another cruise this fall with Mary Jean Tully/Cheri.

We spent three weeks in Switzerland, Germany, France and Belgium from December 8 through December 28. Although there was a lot of rain (not unusual for this time of year), we nevertheless enjoyed our visits to many medieval cities including Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Ghent, Strasbourg and Bruges. As usual, Cheri Ozimac, our travel adviser in Mary Jean Tully’s office, helped arrange the cruise portion of our trip, a Christmas Market cruise from Basel to Trier on Viking.

The Rhine was high because of the rain, so Viking needed to rearrange part of the river cruise since ships were unable to get under some of the bridges on the Rhine. We credit the Viking staff for their work to minimize the impact of the high water, something that they are perhaps better able to do than other cruise lines simply because of the larger number of ships that they have on the European rivers. Since water levels are not predictable, this is a risk that travelers need to accept with winter river cruises.

The WOW List: Best Local Travel Fixers Worldwide

by Wendy Perrin | January 30, 2024

How to Get an Extraordinary Trip: Wendy’s WOW Approach

by Wendy Perrin | January 1, 2023

Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!

by | January 1, 2023

Where and When to Travel in 2024

by | January 31, 2024

How to Get More For Your Miles and Points in 2023

by | January 31, 2023

10 Top Dream Trips for 2023

by Brook Wilkinson | February 1, 2023

Our Latest Newsletters