5 Crazy Things to Pack for a Cruise

Packing Advice from Professional Cruisers

Packing for a cruise may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a newbie embarking on your first voyage. To help, we’ve compiled a short list of five useful items to toss (neatly) in your cruise trunk. These random household items may sound unconventional, but cruisers who have sailed before you advise packing duct tape, straws, a power strip, shoe organizer, and air freshener. Here’s why:

Duct Tape

Duct tape saves the day in many situations, even cruising. Make sure your cruise line is okay with duct tape, though, which may leave an adhesive residue. Check your information or call the cruise line. Here are just a few of its many uses on the ship, according to the experts over at Cruise Critic:

  • Repair broken flip flops
  • Use in place of expensive towel clips when securing your beach towel on a chair poolside
  • Tame a clingy, annoying cabin shower curtain by taping it in place on the wall

Drinking Straws

Drinking straws offer a simple solution to keeping necklaces tidy and knot-free. Thread your necklaces through and then clasp them. Cut them to size, if needed.

Shoe Organizer

An over-the door hanging shoe organizer is a great way to store toiletries and keep the little stuff you need all in one place. Get a clear one so you can easily see what you’ve got.

Power Strip

An extra power strip is a good idea since cabins are typically light on outlets, especially on older ships. But check with your cruise line. Usually, power-surge protected strips are a no-no, and the allowable strips should only have one or two outlets. Perhaps bring two.

Air Freshener

Air freshener could be the best suggestion of all—think of your tiny cabin bathroom without ventilation. It’s a probability, so be prepared with your own freshener to keep your space pleasant.

Need Cruise Transportation?

Start and end your cruise vacation with comfortable, convenient private or shared transportation to/from the piers with Shuttle Express. As Seattle’s local airport and private transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free.

We pick you up at your destination, get you to the ship on time, and even handle your luggage. Choose from black car, private or shared van, or coach service. Then sit back and relax, our experienced team will take care of you.

Book online at shuttleexpress.com or email us at sales@shuttleexpress.net for information and a rate quote

Happy sailing!

How to Choose a Chartered Bus Company

May 24, 2017 By News Comments Off

What to Look for When Hiring a Chartered Bus

Hiring a charter bus company can seem like a daunting task, but if you ask the right questions it can be downright simple.

Whether you’re in charge of transporting all 500 of your company’s employees or just getting your kid’s soccer team to the next match, you have the same goal: finding safe, affordable, comfortable chartered bus transportation you can rely on. Here are key questions to ask when chartering a bus to ensure you get what you want without paying too much:

Safety/Insurance

  • What is the company’s Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection rating? The DOT rates transportation companies—ensure your choice is rated “satisfactory” (the best rating).
  • Does the company comply with all driver regulations? An example is the amount of time a driver is legally allowed to drive during a 24-hour period. Ensure the company complies.
  • Are the drivers background checked and drug tested? You want to know your driver is safe and sober.
  • Does the company maintain full insurance and valid, up-to-date licensing?

Experience

  • How long have they been in business? An established charter company has probably served thousands of customers and has earned a solid reputation, either good or poor.
  • Do they have a current list of references? Make sure to get references and check them.

Fleet

  • How large is the fleet? What options are available if the passenger count changes?
  • How old are the coaches? But remember, coaches are built to run for many years when well-maintained, so an older fleet isn’t necessarily a negative. In addition, ask how the vehicles have been maintained.
  • What are the amenities available? This includes restrooms, wheelchair lifts, etc.
  • Can I stop by and see the vehicles? If you can, do a site visit to see the fleet and meet your contact.

Price

  • What is included in the price—fuel surcharges, gratuities, driver accommodations? Make sure you know what you’re paying for.
  • Ask about service time overages and how that is handled.

Charter Bus Rental Made Easy

Seattle’s Shuttle Express knows a lot about group and executive transportation—we’ve been getting groups of all sizes from point A to point B for 30 years with our extensive fleet of coach buses, shuttles, and luxury vehicles.

The Shuttle Express team is proud of our service—our core values start with safety and our service depends on our professional, friendly drivers and a well-maintained fleet. We background check and drug test all drivers, we’re fully licensed and insured, and we comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations. But just as importantly, we care about our clients and work hard to provide an exceptional transportation experience with every trip.

Whether it’s driving your group to Sea-Tac and back or transporting your office team of 150 to a group event in well-appointed chartered buses, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Reach us at sales@shuttleexpress.net.

Best Places to Vacation in June

June means the start of summer in a good chunk of North America—school’s out and everyone’s ready to vacate to somewhere amazing for a few weeks. But while June brings pleasant weather here, if you’re planning an international escape it’s wise to make sure where you’re going is equally as lovely. Here are five gorgeous destinations that are just right in June.

Beijing, China

June is a relatively quiet month in Beijing with fewer visitors than usual since few if any Chinese holidays or celebrations happen this month. The Great Wall and other tourist draws are less crowded which means it’s a bit cheaper to travel there. June is the start of summer in Beijing, and the weather is usually mild. Travel + Leisure lists it as a one of its best places to travel in June.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Want to stay closer to home? Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is another recommendation from T+L. Early summer brings flowering trees and shrubs, with wildlife emerging which makes this national park a must-see. In addition to backpacking, hiking, and camping, you’ll find festivals and other events nearby for summer fun of all types.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana gets little rain in June and enjoys temps averaging 89 degrees, perfect weather to enjoy the white sandy beaches. What’s even better, resort and activity rates are low in June. Don’t wait, though, since the crowds usually hit in July and August. Check out Price of Travel for more info.

Hawaii

Summer in Hawaii is crowded, no question, but if summer is your only chance to visit this tropical destination, it’s best to go early in the season, and that means June. Early June is a good option, since it’s the end of the off-season; make sure to book your travel early, no matter when you go. Frommer’s offers travel tips to help you plan.

Fiji

Fiji ranks as a favorite destination for many, and June is a great time to enjoy the beaches, resorts, and tropical vibe. Sunshine is abundant with temps typically in the 80s. Peak season is July through September, so if you can sneak in a trip in June, you’ll avoid the crowds and steep rates.

Getting to the Airport

Need a ride to Sea-Tac Airport for your getaway? Shuttle Express is here for you. As Seattle’s individual and executive transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free. Whether it’s driving you to Sea-Tac and back in a town car or private shuttle, or transporting your office team of 50 to a group event in a well-appointed chartered bus, our experienced team will make it happen. It’s easy to book online at shuttleexpress.com or connect with us at sales@shuttleexpress.net.

6 Must-Have Travel Apps

We’re all about making travel enjoyable, simple, and as stress-free as possible, so our Shuttle Express travel team went in search of useful travel apps that can actually help you, from packing to translating. Here’s a rundown of a few cool options to try, all available for iOS and Android:

  1. LoungeBuddy
    Got some time to kill during a long layover? LoungeBuddy gives you access to 170 airport lounges worldwide on a pay-by-use basis, where you can freshen up, relax with a beverage, or bring the family to those locations with designated kid rooms. If you have more than a few hours to fill though, consider heading to Seattle for the day.
  2. AroundMe
    AroundMe gives you information on businesses and services near you—it pinpoints where you are and lets you search for the nearest restaurants, banks and gas stations, just about anything you need when you’re traveling or visiting unfamiliar territory.
  3. Hopper
    Hopper is a flight-booking app that does it all (or close to it): when you search your flight, it gets you the best price–it tells you to book now or to wait, notifying you as soon as the price drops; then, you book the flight on your phone. Easy booking at the best price.
  4. Packpoint
    Packpoint makes packing a cinch with its automatically-generated packing list. Enter your destination, travel dates, plus details about what you’ll be doing, and Packpoint spits out your organized list, which is simple to change if it misses the mark.
  5. Prey
    Prey is a free anti-theft solution that helps you find your devices if they are lost or stolen. It wipes your data, locks down the device, and triggers an alarm, even taking photos of anyone using your device.
  6. Google Translate
    Google Translate isn’t new, but it’s an easy, useful tool for both offline and real-time translation. Just download the language you need, point your camera at the text in question, and you’ve got your translation.

Need a Ride?
Shuttle Express drives you to the airport or anywhere with friendly, safe transportation you can trust. Shuttle Express has it all–town cars, SUVs, limos, vans, plus bus charters for group and executive transportation. Our professional, friendly drivers make sure you arrive safely and on time, for business or pleasure. Book online at shuttleexpress.com.

5 Chartered Bus Trips Around Puget Sound

Looking for adventure? Charter a bus and hit the road.

Day trips and local adventures abound near Seattle, lucky us! Our expert coordinators plan group transportation for executive transportation, families, and any group that needs to arrive at their destination safely and on time. Here’s a short list of our favorite spots, an easy chartered bus trip away.

Future of Flight Aviation Center

The Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett is just 30 minutes up the road from Seattle. Experience this Boeing Aircraft Company factory at work and see the largest aircraft construction hangar in the world. North America’s only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant, the center’s guided tour features construction of the latest high-tech aircraft. Getting there is easy, too. Charter a well-appointed motor or mini coach for a larger group or choose a 10-passenger van or luxury SUV for smaller parties.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth offers up a hefty dose of Bavarian charm and is the perfect family-friendly day trip. About a three-hour drive each way, visitors enjoy outstanding food and treats, shopping, wine tasting, outdoor activities, and cultural events, all wrapped up in gorgeous scenery.

La Conner

The historic little town of La Connor promises a laid-back day spent strolling the boardwalk, perusing galleries, boutiques, museums and more. Famous for its springtime tulip and daffodil festivals, it’s a fantastic day trip any time of year. Bring your friends—charter a mini coach bus or SUV and make transportation simple.

Mount Rainier

Visit this majestic Pacific Northwest icon as often as you can, especially since it’s a mere two- to three-hour drive from Seattle. A day trip will allow time to explore and do a little hiking, but stay longer if you can. Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest and offers extensive hiking, camping, and climbing activities. A chartered bus is a great transportation option that will let you pay attention to the scenery instead of the traffic.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens takes a bit longer to get to, about three-and-a-half hours from Seattle. This active volcano notoriously erupted in May 1980 and is now a protected national monument that’s been left to return to its natural state. Interesting exhibits and beautiful scenery make the drive worth it.

Charter a bus to get there.

Shuttle Express offers trusted, safe, and reliable group transportation for business or pleasure, groups large and small. We’re best known for our iconic Sea-Tac Airport van service, but we maintain an expansive fleet of luxury cars, SUVs, large and small coaches, and private vans, perfect for day trips throughout the Sound, overnight excursions, executive transportation, and special occasions. Reach us at sales@shuttleexpress.net for a quote and more info.

Seattle Cruising 101

Seattle’s port is a global favorite for Alaska and Pacific Northwest cruises thanks to a spectacular location with easy access to outdoor fun, shopping, and cultural experiences. And, it’s well worth adding a few days before or after your cruise to explore this friendly port and sneak in a little extra fun. Read on for need-to-know info.

Pier Pressure

With more than a million cruise passengers expected to flow through Seattle’s two piers this year, expect heavy congestion before and after your cruise. Here are tips to help you navigate the crowded waters.

  • Getting on your ship: Cruise terminals can be hectic and stressful during the first few hours of boarding, with the busiest time from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It depends when your ship leaves so don’t wait too long, but boarding after the rush may be easiest.
  • Getting off your ship: Disembark as early as you can and plan for extra time to get through the check-out process. Make sure you book your airport or hotel transportation ahead of time and pack some patience, since thousands of other cruisers will be headed home, too.

Good to Know

  • Pack your first day essentials (medications, swim suit, change of clothes) in your carry on, since you probably won’t get your checked luggage from the cruise line until evening.
  • Even though recreational marijuana is legal in Washington State, it’s illegal to take it out of the state or on your cruise ship. Leave it at home.
  • Since most of the Seattle cruises stop in Canada, travel with your passport or US passport card; some passengers from outside the US may need a Canadian Visa. Avoid getting denied back on the ship and check with your cruise line for requirements.

Extend Your Stay

Adding a day or three before or after your cruise not only eases the stress of arriving or departing on sailing day (think delayed flights, horrendous traffic, and bad weather), but it also gives you time to explore Seattle.

  • Hotels: If booking a hotel in the downtown core is beyond your budget, stay outside the city. Southside hotels are a great option. Two of our favorites, Hilton Garden Inn Renton and Crowne Plaza Sea-Tac, offer convenient packages including Shuttle Express private transportation to/from the piers.
  • Attractions: Numerous must-see attractions are found in Seattle such as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, but if you venture past the city limits, you’ll find dozens more such as the Future of Flight, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and whale watching in the San Juan Islands. Check out Visit Seattle’s site for helpful information.
  • Shopping: From bargains to high fashion, the Seattle shopping scene has something for everyone. See TripAdvisor for a terrific overview with plenty of links to explore before you hit the shops.

Reliable Transportation

Start and end your cruise vacation with comfortable, convenient private or shared transportation to/from the piers with Shuttle Express. As Seattle’s local airport and private transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free. Choose from black car, private or shared van, or coach service, and our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Book online at shuttleexpress.com or connect with us at sales@shuttleexpress.net.

Score! 7 Ways to Get a Hotel Upgrade

Looking for ways to land that coveted hotel room upgrade? Our Shuttle Express travel coordinators gave us their tips on getting a better deal than what you started with. Remember, an upgrade can be more than just a bigger room—it may be a room on a higher floor (usually quieter and nicer), a better view, more amenities, spa vouchers, and/or restaurant credits.

  1. Get social about your upcoming stay, tweeting, posting, and chatting about how much you’re looking forward to the hotel. You may get noticed by the hotel and rewarded with an upgrade.
  2. Don’t book the cheapest room, instead book a mid-price room and you have a better shot at an upgrade.
  3. Request to see different rooms. If your reserved room is not acceptable for some reason, immediately go back to the front desk, tell them you’re disappointed with your room and want to see other options. To compensate for your disappointment, you could end up with an upgrade.
  4. Returning guests are very important to hotels, so if you’re in their loyalty program, say so before making your request.
  5. Consider tipping your front desk agent/manager. It’s a nice thing to do, and you may get preferential treatment. Worse thing that can happen—your generosity made someone happy.
  6. Use sites like DreamCheaper, a rebooking site that monitors your reservation, scanning for a better deal. If a better room comes up at the same price you paid, you automatically get upgraded. DreamCheaper cancels your previous booking and rebooks you at the same price. Upgrade score!
  7. Stay at a new hotel, since they are probably newly marketing the property and may offer lower rates on better rooms.

Most important advice: be polite, be friendly, and ask. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Good luck!

Need a Ride?

As Seattle’s local transportation experts, our professional, friendly drivers have been getting people where they need to go for nearly 30 years, safely and on time. We’re best known for our iconic Sea-Tac Airport van service, but we do so much more—luxury cars, large and small coaches, private vans. We partner with corporations, hotels, meeting planners, or anyone who needs reliable, comfortable transportation with a friendly attitude.

If your company needs VIP black car service or group motor coach transportation, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Reach us at sales@shuttleexpress.net.

 

Shuttling Teddy Bears to Comfort Kids

April 19, 2017 By News Comments Off

Teddy Bear Express brings joy to kids

Shuttle Express is on patrol, delivering warm and fuzzy comfort to kids in need with our special Teddy Bear Express shuttle! We’re honored to partner with Seattle’s WARM 106.9 Teddy Bear Patrol, which supplies teddy bears to area hospitals, police and fire departments, social service agencies and other organizations working with children in very stressful and frightening situations.

The Teddy Bear Patrol delivers teddy bears all year long, thanks to community support and partners like Bartell Drugs. Last year the WARM 106.9 Teddy Bear Patrol delivered more than 16,000 cuddly teddy bears, from Arlington to Tacoma.

How can you help?

Go to any Bartell Drugs store in Washington and purchase a teddy bear. Bartells will donate a second teddy bear to the Teddy Bear Patrol! Teddy Bear donations can be dropped off at the WARM 106.9 office all year. For directions, click here.

You can also donate bears at special Teddy Bear Drives happening throughout the Sound, where you’ll see Shuttle Express’s Teddy Bear Express and the Teddy Bear Patrol ambassador, Wendell the Bear. Visit WARM 106.9 for details on future dates and locations.

 

Shuttle Express drives you to the airport or anywhere with friendly, safe transportation you can trust. Shuttle Express has it all–sedans, SUVs, limos, vans, plus coaches for group transportation. Our professional, friendly drivers make sure you arrive safely and on time, for business or pleasure. We’re easy to use, too! Book online, then let us take care of the rest.

 

 

Helping Grant Wishes

April 17, 2017 By News Comments Off

Most people consider getting to the airport a routine part of traveling, but for some young passengers, it’s the beginning of a wish come true. Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions and will fulfill wishes for 332 local children this year. When the wishes involve getting children and their families to and from the airport or chartering limo or black car service in the region, they ask for help and we answer.

Shuttle Express, Seattle’s local airport share ride and private transportation company, is privileged to help the local Make-A-Wish® Chapter with transportation needs whenever possible. From our sales team’s efforts to coordinate the rides to the drivers who safely transport the children and families, our company is fortunate to play even a small part in these life-affirming events.

Because of in-kind donations through local companies like ours, Make-A-Wish can stretch donations further and grant wishes for more children. The waiting list is long.

“Over the past four years, our waiting list has doubled,” said Barry McConnell, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. “Right now, more than 500 kids are waiting for a wish and that’s just the beginning. One in five kids is not being referred to our program because they don’t know about us. Any donation – big or small – helps us get one step closer to granting a wish to every eligible child when they need it most, not when we can afford it.”

To learn more about the organization and how you can help, visit Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington’s site or call 800-304-9474.

 

Need Sea-Tac Airport or Private Transportation?

Shuttle Express is here for you. As Seattle’s local transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free. We’re best known for our iconic Sea-Tac Airport van service, but we do so much more—luxury cars, large and small coaches, private vans. We partner with corporations, hotels, meeting planners, or anyone who needs to move people from here to there safely, easily, and with a smile.

Whether it’s driving you to Sea-Tac and back in a town car or private shuttle, or transporting your office team of 150 to a group event in well-appointed motor coaches, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Reach us at sales@shuttleexpress.net.

 

 

Best Tips for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with kids can be stressful, especially for newbie parents and novice travelers, but with some preparation and a dose of patience, it can also be stress-free and even fun. Check out our best travel hacks for flying with kids.

Prepare Ahead

  • Stock up on dollar store treasures, wrap them like presents, then dole them out during the flight.
  • Try a low-mess coloring pen/paper such as Water Wow, which uses a small amount of tap water and, when applied to the page, changes color. Once dry, the page goes back to white.
  • If your child tends to take off without you, consider a toddler tether, security harness, or backpack harness to keep them safe when walking through busy terminals. It’s a good idea to also have your child wear an ID bracelet with your cell phone listed, just in case she gets separated from you.

Getting to the Airport

  • If you’re in the greater Seattle area, don’t bug your friends for a ride or try to cram your family and luggage into a taxi. Book an easy ride with Shuttle Express—children 2 and under ride free on our shared service, one for each paying adult. Don’t want to share? Choose a roomy private van, town car, SUV, or even a mini coach if your group is larger. Leave your car safely in your garage, where it belongs.

Day of the Flight

  • Dress yourself and the kids for the sole purpose of clearing security effortlessly. This means no metal and no toys in pockets; put phones, wallets, and jewelry in a carry-on pocket ahead of time. Have your ID and tickets in your pockets. Wear slip-on shoes (although kids can leave their shoes on while going through domestic security), and take off your coats and hats.
  • Let your kids bring their own carry-on bag such as a backpack, which will usually fit nicely under the seat in front of them. Avoid allowing them to pack balls or anything with wheels, though, which tend to roll around the floor of the airplane.
  • Explain to your kids what they can expect at the airport and during the flight: why do we go through security, why our ears pop, why we can’t use our cell phone? Knowing why often alleviates anxiety.
  • At the airport, encourage your kids to walk with you to drain some excited energy before the flight. Find a quiet area and let them run around a bit.

Special Tips for Infants

  • Take advantage of pre-boarding, which gives you a few extra minutes to get situated before everyone else boards.
  • Feed your baby during take-off and landing, which can ease air pressure issues and help baby sleep during the flight.
  • Pack a diaper-changing kit that includes a small travel pad, wipes, extra diapers, and small plastic trash bags.

As Seattle’s local airport and private transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free. We’re family-friendly, offering shared or private service to fit your needs—our experienced, caring team will take care of you.

Book online now at shuttleexpress.com.