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MissAmberDiva
August 30th, 2002, 01:11 PM
I have been wanting to go to Australia forever. I want to dive the great barrier reef for sure. I wasthisclose to going there on my honeymoon, but wedding expenses didn't leave us with enough money to book that particular trip.

Just curious....could I book a trip for two to Australia that would be cheaper than $8000? I know a trip to Australia will be expensive without a doubt, but I am looking for any type of package deal, good rate, discount offer, etc....
Anyone know of a good deal going on right now?

Amber

metridium
August 30th, 2002, 01:41 PM
It really depends on how prudently you book your airfare (i.e. how far in advance, how flexible your dates are, choice of originating airports, etc.).

I'd think you could come in around $7000 for airfare in economy and a weeklong trip on the Undersea Explorer. Incidentals, like a night or two in a hotel and land transport, are minor extras.

Check out www.underseaexplorer.com

Stone
August 30th, 2002, 01:45 PM
Amber,

I haven't been looking for recent deals, but I can tell you how my wife and I saved a lot on our Australian Vacation.

A couple of months before our trip, we "became" travel agents. We received our International Association of Travel Agents (IATA) number through a large travel agency named Global Travel International (GTI).

At the time, a membership cost $300. We proceded to save $1200 on our 4 week trip. We saved the money while staying at some of the nicest hotels in Sydney (The Intercontinental) and Cairns (The Oasis). Each hotel gave us a 50% travel agent discount. We also saved $350 on our live-aboard (Nimrod Explorer) which gave us a 10% travel agent discount.

We continue to renew our membership ($100 a year, I think) and reap many benefits.

I have a direct link to the Information Section of GTI's website on my homepage. If you're interested, click on my URL below, and look for the GTI link. Once on the GTI page, use the links at the top of the page and the "learn more" button.

Also, I recommend live-aboards that go to the Coral Sea or Far North GBR.

GearHead
August 30th, 2002, 02:10 PM
Thanks for the tip, Stone. I'm going to look into that for future trips! I've already requested information from them, with your referral number.

Scubaroo
August 30th, 2002, 02:10 PM
$8000 USD is a lot of moola in Australia - that's about $14500 AUD. You can probably save a lot as well by just buying return tickets to Australia, and booking your dive holiday through an Australian travel agent - the time zone differences aren't that great - 4pm in California is 9am in Australia, so you have all evening to talk to agents. Just buy a calling card. Plus we speak English (if you listen hard enough) which is a bonus :D

MissAmberDiva
August 30th, 2002, 04:33 PM
bengiddins once bubbled...
$8000 USD is a lot of moola in Australia - that's about $14500 AUD. You can probably save a lot as well by just buying return tickets to Australia, and booking your dive holiday through an Australian travel agent - the time zone differences aren't that great - 4pm in California is 9am in Australia, so you have all evening to talk to agents. Just buy a calling card. Plus we speak English (if you listen hard enough) which is a bonus :D

I never thought of buying a trip from an agent in Australia. I might look into that. That's a pretty good tip!!!!!:)

Also... Stone---- I thought about becoming a travel agent once before, but I read in the fine print that you have to sell so many trips before you can reap the benefits. Is that true for your company??
I will check out your webpage!

Thanks for all the great tips!!!!!!!!!
Amber:dazzle:

raviepoo
August 30th, 2002, 04:46 PM
MissAmberDiva once bubbled...


Also... Stone---- I thought about becoming a travel agent once before, but I read in the fine print that you have to sell so many trips before you can reap the benefits. Is that true for your company??

Amber:dazzle:

I second that question. Is there a minimum amount of business that you are required to do to keep your credentials current?

MissAmberDiva, I think you will find that the US dollar goes VERY far in Australia. When I was there in 2001 I found myself staying at some VERY swanky hotels for about half what I would expect to pay for a fleebag with a bath in the hall in New York.

Stone
August 30th, 2002, 04:46 PM
MissAmberDiva once bubbled...
I thought about becoming a travel agent once before, but I read in the fine print that you have to sell so many trips before you can reap the benefits. Is that true for your company??

I have never sold a trip. My wife has booked a couple of trips for friends and family, but we became members just for the incredible discounts.

We haven't taken advantage of the cruise ship perks yet, but travel agents can get some cruises for next to nothing.

You can also get deeply discounted admissions (50%?) to themeparks like Disney, Universal, and San Diego Zoo.

When booking anything, or making reservations, the magic words are: "Do you have a Travel Agent discount?"

Natasha
August 30th, 2002, 05:51 PM
Stone:
Revise:
To have a real travel agent IATAN card you are supposed to have sold 50,000 in sales or made 5,000 in commissin for one year. You have to then send them a copy of your 1099 to prove you have done this.
Anyone who hasn't done this is a fraud, and is using a tavel agent discount when they are not a travel agent.
But I guess you already know that since you sell vitamins.

Stone
August 30th, 2002, 06:39 PM
Natasha,

I don't apologize to the furniture store when I build my own furniture.

I don't apologize to the garage mechanic when I work on my own car.

I don't apologize to my LDS when I overhaul my own regs (or buy from the internet).

And, I certainly won't apologize to you for booking my own travel (or helping other people who have the inclination, learn how to book theirs).

Natasha
August 30th, 2002, 07:35 PM
See above

MissAmberDiva
August 30th, 2002, 09:30 PM
What do you have to do to become a travel agent??
How many hours are the classes or do you even have to take the classes?
And what's the cost of it all?

Amber

Natasha
August 31st, 2002, 09:41 AM
I would say call your local travel business and ask them what they require.
If you're asking me personally what my back round is, you can call me on the phone and I will tell you how much money I have put into my travel education, and my travel business. But I won't post it all on the internet.

NetDoc
August 31st, 2002, 10:14 AM
I know that she would only speak the truth. There are far too many times when a company offers more than you actually get. If something sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.

Do-It-Yourselfers are great! As a former Auto-technician, I used to love them, because MANY OF THEM would create more work for me. :tease: Now some would have the forsight to see just what a particular job required and were able to rise to the challenge so to speak. Many were not. The unfortunate thing, is that it came so easily to the "few" that the many thought they could get away with it too. Consequently, more money was spent than was initially warranted, and there were a lot of expensive mistakes made.

Professionals almost always make it look easy. Hey, it's their job, ya know? I know for a fact that when you rely on Natasha for an excursion you can COUNT on things (other than the weather and political uprisings) to go pretty much the way she planned it for you. She will catch LOTS of things that would normally slip right by the casual "trip planner". Those "things" just might ruin your trip. I believe in my heart that they do not earn enough for the heartache that they help you avoid.

Bottom line? Some of us are very comfortable jumping into strange waters feet first with nary a care of what might be under the surface. Throw crap at us and we use it for fertilizer. We are prepared to make mistakes and pay for them too. We don't need no stinkin' pro to help us go!

Others of us like a little hand holding. Having someone who already has learned the ropes makes sense to us. We don't have the time/patience/extra money to deal with the contingencies that seem to always come up. No, we would rather let the pros do it, and rely on them so we can RELAX during our vacation. You should have seen the stuff she had to deal with on a constant basis at Wreckmania... and hardly anyone knew about it. I did, but hey I am always one to try and help... even when I don't know jack-squat about what we are trying to accomplish. :tease:

Natasha
August 31st, 2002, 11:19 AM
Well, This has certainly been a post off the subject. So, if you would like to continue it, please start a new post in non scuba related subjects.
The last thing I will say, is that I never said people shouldn't try to book their own travel.
What I am saying is someone posing as a certified insured travel agent, to get our discounts is not fair or right.
To earn travel agent discounts, and have aan IATAN card,you should be a person selling 50,000 a year in travel. I will report this company that is not following the rules.
I can get back to you on what my the IATAN organization says, in a new thread.

raviepoo
August 31st, 2002, 11:25 AM
Rather than go back and forth about whether you should book with a travel agent, I thought I'd give you some practical information based on my experiences travelling to Oz.

I was originally considering a package offered by a travel agent which included airfare and hotels in three cities. When I was told, "no hotels are available for the dates you want to go" I said "The heck with this I'll plan it myself." I ended up spending much less money, tailoring the dates and durations of stay in each city to my specific interests, having a blast, and having the thrill of experiencing and discovering things on my own. Do the reasearch first to find out what locations and activities appeal to you. Then, you can make a more informed decision if you decide to go to a travel agent, and you can book on your own if you prefer.

Check out several websites to get an idea of the airfare you should pay for the dates you want. Try www.orbitz.com, www.travelocity.com, www.itn.com even www.hotwire.com if you are flexible about times. Also, go straight to the major carriers (Quantas, United, American, Air New Zealand). Sometimes they run specials on specific routes.

I assume you want to dive. If you really want to see the best of the Great Barrier Reef you will want to do a liveaboard. Take a look at these websites to find out about boats:

http://www.explorerventures.com/ (Note, they have a green season special. Rain is more likely in the green season. I went to Oz in the grean season and had no problems with rain. On a diveboat, it doesn't really matter if you get wet anyway.)

http://www.mikeball.com/ (Note: The dive master with the diving operation I used (a competitor) told me that this is the best dive operation on the Great Barrier Reef. Book with an Australian travel agent if possible because the price is higher for Americans.)

http://www.cairnsinfo.com will give you an idea of the lodging and activities available in Cairns, the jumping off point for the reef. I can personally recommend the Tully River white water rafting trip and Jump the Beach skydiving in Misssion Beach.

Also take a look at http://www.travelmate.com.au.

There are a few other websites that I used when researching my trip but they are on my other computer. I'll see if I can find them.

By the way, if you're at all interested in Tennis, go in to Melbourne in Januray and take in a few sessions of the Australian Open. Ticket prices are quite cheap and it's possibly the best outdoor party I've ever attended.

I'm so jealous! I wish I was going with you!!!!

Stone
August 31st, 2002, 08:11 PM
I used this site extensively when planning my trip:

Oz Travel Mall (http://www.oztravelmall.com/)

It has info on everything from Hotels to Outback adventures to Cross Country Train Rides.

Bob
August 31st, 2002, 10:55 PM
Well... I could send off a $100 dollars to a Diploma Mill, request and receive a Degree that says I'm a Brain Surgeon, but that wouldn't make me one, would it? Sooner or later I'd be exposed as a fraud. I have nothing against people booking dive trips on their own, thats no problem with me. I know Natasha personally, I know she is a honest person, I know she is a person of integrity. I know these things because I have dealt with her before and will again in the future. I know she has spent years building her business, educating herself and operating her business ethically, and by the rules. Like the NetDoc says, "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is" :tree: Bob

Se7en
September 6th, 2002, 03:05 AM
$4000 US each is heaps... that's about $7000 AU.

For reference, a cheap liveaboard with 5 days inc cod hole and coral sea (taka II - out of Cairns) is $1400 AU each for the best room, and $1100 for a bunk.

Mike BAll is the most expensive, and a similar trip will be $1500 to $2000 AU each

Out of Cairns, all the boats do similar trips, except a few go out to the Coral Sea.

Do Not do a trip which doesn't go to the Coral Sea. It is simply Awesome.

Further South, two dive day trips run around $80 AU.

If you want to put together a diving trip, I'd recommend flying into Cairns, doing aliveaboard trip, fly down to townsville and go out to the Yongala, down to brisbane and dive on some of the wrecks, Byron bay for some relaxation, and then Sydney for the view and some good shore dives.
Done it all, and will do it all again.

Or down to Tas for some good cold water diving and crayfish.

You'd get this trip in budget as long as you don't want 5 star service everywhere...

Mike

Jamesy
September 20th, 2002, 09:41 AM
Hi Amber,

If you do get to Australia do what everyone is saying and B-line it to Cairns.

The Cairns Tourist Information Centre Cairns Website (http://www.cairns.aust.com/About/) has heaps of info which is a good stop to pre-plan.

I highly recommend the Coral Sea live aboards. This way you can have a stayover at a hotel on the land for a few nights and then live aboard for a week or two. It's fantastic. You will meet heaps of fellow travellers and have a great time.

My last trip I used Pro Dive but the captain and dive master were absolute nazi's whereas the rest of the crew were fantastic. The boat was excellent and the facilities tops. Absolutely a load of fun. Unfortunately the week long dive to the outer reef wasn't all that good hence my recommendation to go up the Coral Sea.

When you get back make sure you hire a car and drive further North to the Daintree. Fantastic rainforests and sights.

Anyway, message me if you would like more info

Cheers

James ;)

Kat
September 20th, 2002, 11:22 AM
My oldest daughter may be going to Aus, to represent the USA, in a swimming competition in July 2003. (if she makes the finals) I'll be able to go with her. Would only be able to dive once or twice while there. Any dive shop recommendations?

metridium
September 20th, 2002, 11:38 AM
Kat wrote...
My oldest daughter may be going to Aus.... Would only be able to dive once or twice while there. Any dive shop recommendations?
You might want to be the teensiest bit more specific....

:jester:

raviepoo
September 20th, 2002, 07:25 PM
That's kind of like saying "I am going to be visiting the United States of America for three days. Can anyopne recommend a good dive operator?"

Australia is a big continent. Where will the competition be held?


Kat once bubbled...
My oldest daughter may be going to Aus, to represent the USA, in a swimming competition in July 2003. (if she makes the finals) I'll be able to go with her. Would only be able to dive once or twice while there. Any dive shop recommendations?

FLL Diver
September 20th, 2002, 10:03 PM
Natasha once bubbled...
What I am saying is someone posing as a certified insured travel agent, to get our discounts is not fair or right.
To earn travel agent discounts, and have aan IATAN card,you should be a person selling 50,000 a year in travel. I will report this company that is not following the rules.
I can get back to you on what my the IATAN organization says, in a new thread.

Natasha - you are absolutely correct. I work for a major hotel chain, and we instruct our hotels to only honor the discount if an IATAN card is presented. We also put out periodic alerts on the business card mills that pop up.

It personally irritates me that people cheat like this - getting something they are not entitled to.

Marc

MissAmberDiva
September 21st, 2002, 05:00 PM
Maybe you FLL and Natasha should start a new thread warning others about this. I almost signed up for that program and I am glad that I found out that most hotels won't accept that particular card. I would rather just do the travel agent certification the right way and be able to get the discounts fairly.

Kat
September 25th, 2002, 08:11 PM
Raviepoo & Metridium...sorry about that. I forgot this wasn't the psycic hotline. :D I somehow left out the most important part ...location. Duh. Training will be in Cairns, in Queensland. That is where we'll be staying. We will also be in Sydney, doing a bit of sightseeing.

Arnaud
October 19th, 2002, 09:19 PM
ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department cautions consumers to beware of offers from "card mills:" companies which sell questionable travel agent credentials. Consumers may be led to believe that such cards allow them to travel at free or reduced fares. Organizations making these offers are known throughout the travel industry as card mills because they routinely offer credentials by the thousands in the form of an identification card that is sold for a significant fee. In turn, these cards would presumably be accepted by every segment of the travel industry.

Many suppliers of travel, however, do not accept them.

In recent months, ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department has received an increase of calls from consumers being wooed by these card mill operators. Most of those solicited have been promised that they can get all the benefits of being a travel agent. However, ASTA cautions that the industry has become much more vigilant in clamping down on those using card mill credentials.

If you have received an offer to purchase a card that supposedly allows you to receive travel agent benefits or discounts, call ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at (703) 739-8739 for information and guidance.

Arnaud
October 19th, 2002, 09:20 PM
Check link below for the real requirements: www.iatan.org/pdf/126.pdf

RSdiver
November 9th, 2002, 07:37 PM
Australia is absolutely great! Super diving, friendly people, and a variety of fun things to see and do when not diving. A new definition of Paradise. I did 4 live-aboard trips in 2001, the Great Barrier Reef, Burma, Papua New Guinea Kavieng and The Coral Sea. Undoubtedly, Mike Ball's Coral Sea trip was FAR superior to any other live aboard trip I've done to date.
They depart out of Townsville and dive the wreck of the Yongala (super!) and then go out, past the Great Barrier Reef to the Coral Sea's Flinder's reefs. Visibility in the GBR can be restricted in comparison the the Coral Sea, but truthfully both are nice.

I was in Australia for 2 months May-June and found that the key to saving money was planning on going at low season.

Airlines have high prices during the USA winter season (which is Australia's summer) and also during USA summer months.
By going between these high season's in May my airfare on United was $799 R/T San Fran to Sydney and another $350 R/T SYD to Cairns. I booked it on the UAL website - as airlines no longer give travel agents the discounts that they once had.

The Cairns area has a monsoon season from Jan-Mar and in July the high priced season starts as tourists arrive. On a friend's suggestion (who had done it before) I made no advanced arrangments and arrived in May to take advantage of "Standby" diving prices. These are just what they sound like, unfilled seats on trips that are offer at a discounted price to attract last minute buyers. At this time of year nearly all the boats had these discount spots available. In addition other activities like white water rafting, bungee jumping, and parachuting had similar discounts.
BUT JUST HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE?

PRICE GOUGING JAPANESE AND AMERICANS

An unfortunate fact is that most pre-booked trips out of Cairns seem to gouge Japanese and Americans. Mike Ball's pricing is no different and in discussing it with other divers it became evident that pricing depends on where you come from;
Japanese are charged the highest prices and Americans are just slightly under that with native Aussies being the lowest. If you look at the Mike Ball website YOU WILL NOT FIND PRICES LISTED, rather you will have to email them and request pricing. I did this prior to my trip and received a quote of $2400.00 US Dollars. I didn't book it, but was amazed at how much I saved by waiting until I arrived there.

WANT PROOF?
Below is a scan of the standard brochure, but because I waited and booked through a local Cairns office this brochure has the local "STANDBY" prices in the black box on the top. You will not find this brochure anywhere else, except in Cairns at the numerous travel agents and also at Mike Ball's offices.
(NOTE that the price of $1696 is in Aussie dollars and roughly equivalent to $900.00 US.

Click here to see Mike Ball's brochure (http://i7.ac.yahoo.com/users/9/8/9/9/a1coin-img504x600-1036978617mike_ball_brochure_sm.jpg)

caymaniac
November 10th, 2002, 08:40 PM
Trip-n-tour just quoted me from Grand Rapids, Mich. to Cairns and one week stay in a 4-1/2 star hotel round trip for $2000. each, try them, I think you could save some money for a down payment on a house.

Dive Safe,
Caymaniac;)

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