TAMPA — Approximately 70 members of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce scurried about Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas the morning before it set sail to Cozumel, Mexico.
Guests don't check in until 1 p.m., so the chamber invitees snapped photos of chocolate pianos left in the luxury suites, pictured themselves relaxing in various 10th-floor staterooms and journeyed through the 16 on-board bars and lounges.
AAA Brandon organized the pre-cruise tour to give people a sneak peak of the cruise experience. After everyone checks out all the amenities and samples the food during a sit-down lunch on the 90,000-ton ship, AAA Brandon field manager David Miller explains why people should still trust the company that started in 1902 to help book their travel.
He belongs to six local chambers, something he deems a necessity in the on-going effort to compete with Internet travel sites.
"I do a lot of events like these," Miller said. "We do them all the time. It's another thing we point out for people why they should book with us."
Miller said AAA books your cruise for the same price you see online and then adds extra amenities such as VIP check in, champagne in your room and up to a $100 on-board credit. On larger ships, it makes special dining arrangements available and offers quarterly specials to members such as a spa treatment.
Miller said the extra perks make the $66 annual membership dues a "no-brainer," especially when you consider AAA provides a single point of contact to guide folks through cruises, tours, Disney trips and other vacation destinations.
Debbie Meyers, Royal Caribbean strategic account manager for Florida, agrees. She said she booked her vacation cruise through AAA as well.
"It's very good, especially for first timers," she said of the white glove, AAA service. "A lot of people have visions of The Love Boat."
The preview experience helped Darryl and Angela Sookoonsingh, who own the Dickey's barbecue restaurant in Riverview.
"We were thinking about going on a cruise and this gives us the opportunity to check it out," Darryl said.
Miller said the secret to booking a cruise is to plan your trip while kids are still in school to get the best rates. For more information, call AAA Brandon at (813) 681-5761.
Allstate agents open 2 Riverview locations
RIVERVIEW — Two new Allstate offices have opened in Riverview, offering insurance and financial services products. Allstate Agent Nathan Ellsworth opened a location at 6320 US 301, and Armando Morales started his business at 13157 US 301.
Both agencies sell auto, property and life insurance, as well as protection for motorcycles, boats, motor homes and recreational vehicles. In addition, agency staff members can offer guidance and counseling about those products, helping customers choose the insurance coverage that best meets their needs.
To find out more about Allstate's wide range of insurance products, contact Ellsworth at (813) 681-2886 or Morales at (813) 381-5650.
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