Virgin Voyages’ Fresh Take on Cruising ft John Diorio and Win a Seven-Night Cruise!

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Set sail on a conversation like no other as we launch a once-in-a-lifetime raffle for a seven-night Virgin Voyages cruise! Want in? We’ve got all the ropes you’ll need to climb on board this unique opportunity. Up next, we’re joined by John Diorio, the man steering the North American sales for Virgin Voyages. With almost 30 years in the travel game, John spills the sea salt on what makes Virgin Voyages more than just another cruise line. Think adults-only sailing, all-inclusive pricing, and a green footprint as big as a whale’s tale.

Then, buckle up as travel deals guru Jessica Deverson drops anchor with three unbeatable vacation packages that’ll have your compass pointing due “wow.” From Europe to the Caribbean, find out how to stretch your dollar without compromising your wanderlust. But that’s not all—dive into our “manifesto of no tourists allowed,” as we navigate the transformation from mere sightseers to bona fide global explorers. It’s all aboard for this jam-packed episode!

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Mike Putman:
[0:00] Hey, all you adventurous travelers out there. Picture this, pristine blue waters, captivating sunsets, seven nights of unparalleled luxury on a Virgin Voyage cruise.

James Ferrara:
[0:14] That’s right, Mike. We’re raffling off a free seven-night Virgin Voyages cruise for two people.
Imagine basking in the glory of the spa terrace cabin.
That’s the category we’re giving. And the cherry on top, you get to select from all available ships, dates and ports when you book it.
Just make sure you’re setting sail before June 30th, 2024 if you’re our winner.

Mike Putman:
[0:47] Now here’s how it works. Each week, right here on this podcast, no tours allowed, we will be announcing a new raffle entry option.
It’s like a travel quest leading up to the big prize.

James Ferrara:
[1:01] Now for today’s golden travel entry option.

Mike Putman:
[1:07] To get yourself one step closer to those sun-kissed days at sea, all you need to do is sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

James Ferrara:
[1:16] That’s right, and we’ve made it super easy for you.
Head over to our website with the link in the description where you can enter the raffle and even better your information is saved so each week when you return for more chances to win it’s smooth sailing and folks there’s a treasure trove of additional raffle points follow us on social media and subscribe to our youtube channel because we’re dropping exclusive bonus entries just there.

Mike Putman:
[1:47] There and only there. The links to the raffle entry, social media, and YouTube are in the episodes description.

James Ferrara:
[1:57] Every week is a new adventure, leading you closer to that ultimate cruise giveaway.

Mike Putman:
[2:04] So sign up, tune in to the podcast and the social media every week for new raffle point options And gear up for the possibility that the next mesmerizing sunset you enjoy might just be from the deck of a Virgin Voyage cruise.

James Ferrara:
[2:22] All aboard the Dream Voyage! Now, without further ado, let’s plunge into today’s episode.

Mike Putman:
[2:31] Good day, everyone. I’m Mike Putman.

James Ferrara:
[2:33] And I’m James Farrar. Welcome to No Tourists Allowed.

Mike Putman:
[2:39] Yes, we’re glad to be back for another edition in Season 2, and we have a very, very special host…excuse me, guest today.
You have a special host every week, but we have a special guest this week, and James, why don’t you introduce John?

James Ferrara:
[2:58] Absolutely. We have with us one of the senior executives in the travel and street gentleman named John DiOrio. He is currently the vice president of North American sales for Virgin Voyages.
We’re going to talk about that in a minute. But John also has an almost 30-year career. John, I’m sorry to age you.
30-year career. And what’s interesting is your background is in resorts, in hotels, in adventure travel, in tickets.
I mean, you really have a broad view of the travel industry, and that brings a lot of value for our listeners. And we’re about to get that value out of you. So welcome. Welcome to No Tourist Allowed, John.

John Diorio:
[3:44] No, James and Mike, thank you for having me. I’m I’m so excited for this opportunity and really look forward to just diving in with you both. I know, and James, thank you for not aging me too much.
I think I now stay over 30 years, but if you say almost 30, that sounds even better.
I feel younger already by being on this podcast.

James Ferrara:
[4:06] Could be my math is a little off, but listen, we traditionally start, just to kind of warm things up, have our listeners get to know you.
We traditionally start with some personal questions, not too personal, personal questions about your travel likes and dislikes, and I’ll hand it over to the maestro for that, Mike Tobos.

Mike Putman:
[4:30] Yeah, so first question is, what size headphones do you have?
Just kidding. That’s an inside joke.

John Diorio:
[4:36] They’re invisible size. They’re the invisible size ones today.

Mike Putman:
[4:43] Yeah, so we have some rapid-fire questions for you, and if you’ll just spat off the first thing that comes to your mind, this is a way of introducing your personality, your travel personality to our listeners.

[4:56] Question number one, what is your favorite destination?

John Diorio:
[4:59] Port of Aorta.

Mike Putman:
[5:01] All right, that’s an interesting one we haven’t heard before.
Are you an aisle or window guy?

John Diorio:
[5:08] Oh, 100% aisle. I don’t understand how people sit at a window. I really do not.

James Ferrara:
[5:15] Well, and you’re a trim guy, John. I mean, for me, it’s like I need the extra room spilling over into the aisle a little bit.

Mike Putman:
[5:24] How about, are you a Kindle or a paper book when you travel?

John Diorio:
[5:31] Neither, to be honest with you. So I don’t have a Kindle, but I do use my phone.
I have everything on my Google Books.
Okay, I didn’t even know that.
Definitely electronic, I do not bring paper books.

James Ferrara:
[5:46] Okay. He’s a man of the 21st century.

John Diorio:
[5:49] I try to be, you know, if it fits on my phone, great. That’s one less thing I have to put in my backpack.

James Ferrara:
[5:56] I bought recently, I love to read books, and I bought, of course, I selected a 900 page book that I lug around in my backpack now.
It’s like having a cinder block in my backpack.

John Diorio:
[6:10] How do you do that? I wonder, like, it’s just, yeah.

Mike Putman:
[6:15] So John, what’s your favorite hotel brand?

John Diorio:
[6:20] Ooh, that’s so, my loyalty lies with Marriott From the, from the, the broader global side of things, I find myself 90% of the time in a Marriott somewhere around the world.

Mike Putman:
[6:34] And non-specific to a brand, what is your favorite hotel in the world?

John Diorio:
[6:41] Ooh, the first one that comes to mind would be the Four Seasons in Tokyo. Oh.

James Ferrara:
[6:47] Good choice.

Mike Putman:
[6:49] Yes.

John Diorio:
[6:50] And there’s so, I mean, like there’s so many great choices. I’ve traveled all over the world. But that one just resonates.
Great location, great service, and one of the most magical countries in the world, so.

Mike Putman:
[7:02] Good, and I’m heading there next month.

John Diorio:
[7:04] Oh, highly recommend that place.

Mike Putman:
[7:05] Good, good. I’ll take note of that. And other than your current role at Virgin, what’s been your favorite role?
You don’t have to give the company, but you’re welcome to if you like, but what’s been your favorite job other than, of course, your current job at Virgin?

John Diorio:
[7:21] Other than my current job, you know, I would say I had the pleasure very early on working for a – I’ll name the company because I think it tells the story a little bit.
But I got involved very early on with travel online.
And so back in the late – early 2000s, I ended up working for a company called Hotel Reservations Network, which eventually became
And at that point, I was running a team to find individuals that owned websites.
Like if you owned, my job was to find you somewhere around the world and get you to put our booking engine on it. And so it was really in the early times of when Google just started.
They’ve been around now 25 years, if you can believe that. And so it was fun watching how the internet really grew, but specifically how travel grew online.
I mean, to the point we were – Google wasn’t even charging for advertising back then.
And it was great to watch the internet grow specifically for travel and be part of that kind of world. And so it was one of my favorite jobs because it was all creativity and all kinds of fun.

James Ferrara:
[8:35] That’s great. All three of us, I think our careers probably started around the same time.
And so we all got to live this incredible transformation of the industry, the digital transformation of the industry.
And there’s been so much interesting and exciting and combative and, you know.

John Diorio:
[8:57] Well, I remember even before that, there was a company I worked for in Boulder, Colorado.
And we had this global hotel program. It was truly a printed directory.
And we got a random call one day from some company out of Washington called Expedia.
We were like, they were like, we want to put this hotel directory on a CD drum.
And back before, truly, everything really kind of just grew.
So it’s been fun to watch how travel has grown online and what it’s done just for people’s lives to see the world now more than ever.

Mike Putman:
[9:35] Yes, absolutely.

James Ferrara:
[9:38] Absolutely. So, John, let’s turn to your current work because you’re part of a really exciting brand presence in the world and then specifically a relatively new cruise brand that has so much buzz about it and so much, you know, interest, tell us about it, tell us about Virgin Voyages.

John Diorio:
[10:03] No, I’ve been with the brand now a little over five years.
And you know, what’s funny is I got a call randomly out of the blue and was told about this company and we thought we’d love to talk to you about coming to work.
And honestly, I really didn’t pay much attention to the cruise space.
It wasn’t my, you know, it wasn’t what I always looked to do on vacation.
So I wasn’t involved in that a lot. But when you get a call and Virgin’s tied to it and Richard Branson’s tied to it, and I’ve been a big fan of his for years, it was worth understanding what was the opportunity for me. And so.
It was a chance to work for Richard and this amazing company, but also do something that a lot of people don’t get to do very often, which is launch a cruise line.
It’s not something that happens every day, let alone every decade for that matter.
So it was an amazing opportunity to help create this brand. And our, the goal was really how to create the best vacation at sea.

[11:05] And that’s that’s what we strive to do every day. And, you know, it started with just how we wanted to create a very unique product in the cruise market space.
And there are some great brands out there that have been around for decades and there’s great products, but we really wanted to create something very different to stand out in the space.
And it’s something, it’s a formula, to be honest with you, that Richard Branson has followed for now over 50 years.
And he seems to got it, he’s got a down, so.

James Ferrara:
[11:34] So that’s interesting. Tell us a little bit about the formula or what makes the brand so different.

John Diorio:
[11:39] So, you know, I think when you look at what Richard’s done as he’s launched different products over his lifetime, he thinks about coming into a marketplace of doing something a little differently.
And, you know, I know you folks probably remember obviously Virgin America not long ago as they came in as a new airline in the US and they really turned people’s heads around.
They’re like, oh, what a different way to have a boarding experience?
What a different way to have a flight experience and the TV screens, and you didn’t have carts going up and down the aisle and blocking your journey to the bathroom as quickly as you needed to get there.
And that formula worked, but it started with understanding what people wanted.
And so for Virgin Voyages specifically, we did about two years of research and we really took a deep dive into what really resonated to customers that love to cruise and what we could do a little differently.
But more importantly, finding those that didn’t think cruising was something that they would love and got their feedback as well. And it allowed us to kind of shape really the experience.
And that’s really what Virgin companies are about, specifically Virgin Voyages.
We’re creating a very unique experience compared to other products that are out there.

James Ferrara:
[12:57] So can you give us some pillars of that experience?

John Diorio:
[13:02] Oh, James, I can talk about this all day long. Of course I can. You beat me up so well.
So I think first and foremost, as we looked at creating that experience, the first thing that really resonated was there was a huge opportunity in the cruise space to have a voyage.
Without children. And so we are an exclusively adult only experience.
You have to be at least 18 years or older to sail with Virgin Voyages.
And so, you know, as I was starting with the company and as our ships got closer to launching, I don’t think my kids really understood that. When I started telling them they couldn’t go on my ships, they were not really happy about that.
But it’s been really, it’s one of the true differentiators for us in the marketplace of having no kids on the ship. It is built for us as adults.
Everything we did from the design of the ship and the smell and the soundtrack and the experience and our crew helps create that very unique experience.
And it’s amplified, believe it or not, when you step on board, you feel that energy, but you know there’s something missing in its kids.
And that just elevates that experience for adults. Like that’s truly, I think, one of the key things.

James Ferrara:
[14:20] Right, and it’s not because, you know, Sir Richard doesn’t like kids or, you know.
There’s plenty of product out there, plenty of cruise experiences out there for children. So it’s just something that really sets you apart.

John Diorio:
[14:35] Yeah, and that was foundational for us. And then it became what that experience was gonna be for our sailors once they came on board.
So we started with making sure there was as much as possible included in their experience, that as they were on this amazing vacation and then they decided it was time to vacation was over, they didn’t get this kind of sticker shock at the end, right?
So we include a lot more in the experience. So all of your food is included.
We include all the gratuities, all the group workout classes. We include.
As much as you could possibly think of where it makes sense for us.
And so it just creates a very unique experience and it resonates really well with our sailors.
I mean, we’re winning all of the best cruise line awards right now this year in our second year of sailing. So we have the right experience and it’s working for us.

James Ferrara:
[15:36] And does- So this nickel and diming concept for travelers in any vertical, whether it’s cruise or vacations or whatever, it sort of sticks under our craw as travelers.
So you really, you’re pinning on something that resonates with travelers, this more inclusive kind of approach, you know?

John Diorio:
[15:57] Yeah, and I would say we’re not an all-inclusive product. I think there’s a difference between that type of product.
We, and you said it perfectly, James, we’re a more inclusive type of product.
We include what our sailors want to have included in an experience where they can control what they want to do when they come on board. So, for example, Wi-Fi. Like, to us, Wi-Fi is a basic human right.
Everybody gets Wi-Fi. But we took it a step further and said, not only do you get one device, but you’re gonna get two devices when you come on board, and that’s per sailor.
So you don’t have to worry about those little things of, oh, my phone is on the Wi-Fi on the ship. Oh, I now gotta do some work, and I gotta turn it off on the phone, and then turn it on on your laptop, we just give you two devices.

James Ferrara:
[16:43] And it just makes- Or do it to each other. Yeah, yeah, that too.
You’re traveling with somebody and you’re knocking them off the wifi all the time. All right.

John Diorio:
[16:51] Well, and it just creates, it creates just a nice experience, less friction.
And I think when you get rid of those little nickel and diming things that you talk about and include more, they’re on board to enjoy the experience now.
And you don’t worry about those little nuances, especially when you get off the ship.

Mike Putman:
[17:10] So let’s talk a little bit about your hardware.
What in the what differences did it make when you were designing the hardware and you’re thinking about Okay, we don’t have to worry about kids.
Of course, we don’t have to have a kids club things of that nature Was there anything that kind of stood out that gave you?
Something in the design phase that allowed it to be uh, different than a ship that would have children?

John Diorio:
[17:39] Yeah. So I think it started Mike with us really looking at what size of ship we wanted to build, right?
I mean, there are some great products out there. We consider ourselves more of a mid-size ship based on its size, right?
There are some very larger ships coming out and there are ships that are smaller than us.
But we knew there was the right size of ship that would allow us to have very very different experiences on board the ship, but also simultaneously that size of ship allows us to go to a lot of different ports that larger ships can’t go to.
So that creates that different experience of where you’re going as well from an itinerary standpoint.

[18:20] But when you think about the onboard side of things, first and foremost, every space on our ship was designed to be very intimate.
You won’t see large dining restaurants of 1,500.
You don’t see theaters of a thousand people.
Everything was designed to be very intimate. And what happens is you kind of move from space to space.
There’s a unique soundtrack. There’s a unique vibe. And it allowed us to build that with adults in mind.
We didn’t have to think about where to put the roller coaster or the rock climbing wall or the kid’s room and things like that. And those are great for other products, but for us, it was everything we designed had the lens of what do adults want to do.
And it gave us a lot more freedom where we could have a karaoke lounge where our sailors can come and do karaoke whenever they want.
It allowed us to think about the type of entertainment being more with adults in mind, even to just the retail experience.
And we even have a tattoo studio on board our ships.
Those are things you can’t normally do or you wouldn’t see normally happen on other ships. And then I think one of the hallmark items when it came to design is that in our cabins, we’ve got hammocks on all of our terraces or balconies.
And that’s something that is very signature to virgin voyages.

Mike Putman:
[19:46] That is great. That’s something I would enjoy.

John Diorio:
[19:49] Mike, the biggest challenge with our hammocks on our sea terraces, especially if there’s two people, is they fight over who gets to be in the hammock.
That’s the biggest challenge we have. Yeah.

Mike Putman:
[19:59] Yeah. When it comes to dining, was there anything special that you thought about while you were creating the dining experience for adults?

John Diorio:
[20:09] Yeah. You know, I would say first and foremost, we have no buffets.
There are no buffets on our ship. And there’s nothing wrong with a good buffet, but we knew based on our research that for this elevated adult experience, you wanted to have ready-to-made order food, you want it to be custom, you want it to be fresh, and we got rid of the buffet.
So everything is there made fresh. We also include all the food in your experience.
You don’t have to pay extra to go to kind of a specialty restaurant.
And so that allowed us to really hone in on that type of quality of food that’s unrivaled in the industry right now, especially as we keep winning awards for some of the best food on the ocean.

Mike Putman:
[20:56] Great.

James Ferrara:
[20:58] So you’ve touched on a couple of things here that actually bring us into the.
Ethos of our Podcast no tourists allowed right?
We’re trying to help people Travel in a better way travel in a more memorable way hopefully more more authentic and less like Tourists, so is there anything about the virgin voyages experience that can help us do that?
I mean you’ve already touched on for example, the size of the ships Allows you to go to some less touristy ports, you know So, and I don’t know, maybe it’s the food on board or maybe it’s you have cultural programs or shore excursions.
Help us understand, does this fit into this no tourists allowed worldview?

John Diorio:
[21:46] Yeah, so I think, you know, James, when we think about Richard and his beliefs as he’s built his companies over the years, we really have a lens on just being environmentally aware, And when you build ships like this.
And so we started from day one making sure we were doing the best we can for the oceans and the ports that we go into and even the experience on board the ship.
And what I mean by that is we have no single-use plastics on the ship.
We have no bottles of water that you have to buy.
So it starts with those little things. Even the bands that you wear when you’re on board, whether you can see it or not, I’ll show you guys, that band that we wear is made from recycled fishing nets that are extracted from the ocean that are left there.
We have a company we work with that extracts that from the ocean that’s just sitting there as waste.
They take that and they create our bands that are used to get you into your cabin.
We use that to pay for things on board the ship. And so we really think about all those little things that contribute and really help with our kind of environmental footprint.

[23:01] Even the sunscreen we have on the ship, it’s a reef safe sunscreen, making sure that we’re not impacting the coral reefs around the world.
So it’s all those little things.
You talked about the buffets.
Buffets probably, there’s probably a couple hundred tons of waste annually on ships when and you have to throw food away after a certain period of time, which is unfortunate, right?
And that just goes to the little things that we look at and make sure that we’re doing better to just be more responsible.

James Ferrara:
[23:34] That’s great. I think our travelers need to hear more about that, right?
Because there’s a lot of talk out there about.
How cruising might not be environmentally friendly, and I think most people don’t understand the lengths to which cruise lines go to work on all of these programs, and to give back to the communities, and to protect the oceans, and to deal with waste, and to deal with single-use plastics.
And so, you know, that doesn’t get talked about enough.

John Diorio:
[24:11] It doesn’t. It doesn’t. We actually also, through a lot of research, we know it’s actually a very influential factor in the buying decision as well.
Like if you have a, there are people that want to buy products that align to their beliefs, right?
So if we are thinking about what we’re doing to make the oceans better, and we kind of say that more, and I agree with you, I think brands need to do that more, But we’re seeing that because we talk about it more, we get people coming over to us because we are very aware of that.
And I think the industry as a whole has done an amazing job over the past decade in the way they design ships and how they process things that you mentioned.
So as an industry, we’re doing amazing work.

James Ferrara:
[24:58] Yeah, absolutely. Tell us about, what’s your favorite Virgin shore excursion or two? Just to give us an idea of what the experience is like.

John Diorio:
[25:09] So, and I just recently did this one. And so as we thought about shore excursions, we, you know, at Virgin, we have different names for everything.
We call them shore things.
And the one that I really, that sticks in my mind, because I just did this back in May. So in May, we launched our third ship, Resilient Lady, out of Athens, Greece. And when we think about what we do in a port, we obviously want to work with local vendors and local experiences to make it very authentic.
And so there is, and her name, it’s slipping my mind, but when we go to Mykonos, for example, we do this cooking experience at this lady’s house.
And it’s about 10, 15 minutes away from the port.
And she welcomes us into her home, and we just make Greek food all day.
And she She shows us how to make it. She gets us involved in making it.
And it’s about 20 people, probably no more than 30. So we try to create more of that intimate experience versus it being at a shore excursion with a hundred people.
So it allows it to be more memorable is how we look at it. And so that’s the one thing that I absolutely love. It’s one that I highly recommend when you sail with us out of Greece.

Mike Putman:
[26:32] What a great experience.

James Ferrara:
[26:33] That’s a perfect example.

Mike Putman:
[26:34] Yeah, that’s something I’d love to do.

John Diorio:
[26:36] That’ll help you. And there are, we’ve got so many of them. We do these great experiences in Porta Plata in the Dominican Republic where it’s a, it’s an eight hour experience and you’re doing, you’re zip lining and you’re on ATVs and you’re hiking.
And, you know, it’s about just immersing yourself locally in that culture at the moment.
And it’s those, it’s those little things that make a difference.
And our team, we’ve got an amazing team that really goes around the world looking for those authentic experiences and making sure that they also kind of believe in the same things we believe in, in terms of the environment and waste and plastics and things like that.

James Ferrara:
[27:15] Mike, let’s get some tips from John because he is such a frequent traveler, clearly has a tremendous amount of experience.

Mike Putman:
[27:22] I got a couple, before we do, I got a couple of questions. I just got to get across before we let him off.
One is, are there any plans for Necker Island to be a stop?

John Diorio:
[27:37] Well, that’s a great question, Mike. The answer is no.
There’s really no place to put the ship, to be honest with you.
And I think Richard, as much as I think Richard loves to have us there, I think he’d rather come to the ship, to be honest with you.
But no, no plans to do Necker.

James Ferrara:
[27:54] Nice try, though.

John Diorio:
[27:55] Nice try, Mike. Look, you can easily purchase an experience on Necker Island.
I know Richard would be more than happy to welcome you there, for sure.

Mike Putman:
[28:05] Yeah, my follow-up question to that is, when you speak to Mr.
Branson, does he require you to call him Sir Richard.

John Diorio:
[28:13] He does not. He does not.

Mike Putman:
[28:15] But out of respect, we should have that.

John Diorio:
[28:18] Out of respect, you use it and you reference him, but no, you do not. Okay.

Mike Putman:
[28:22] Well, great. Well, as James was alluding to, do you have any tips just as a, we know you’re on the road a lot, you’re out talking to people, telling, being an evangelist for your brand.
Do you have any tips for when you travel of things that you do that might make your travel more convenient, or less of a hassle?

John Diorio:
[28:45] You know, there’s a couple of things that I always think about.
I’m a big fan of just being as efficient as possible when I travel.
Now, I get the benefit of doing it almost every week. So it comes with, it’s a habit now.

[29:01] I love, obviously, TSA PreCheck is a no-brainer. But I’m also a member of Clear.
Clear kind of helps you expedite that. And I, I think I was one of the, I was living in Denver and they launched it in Denver and Orlando, I don’t, I won’t even say how many years ago.
Um, but it’s probably one of the, it’s just a great experience.
And, and clear has done a great job of even kind of moving that experience into stadiums now and things like that. So there’s a lot of great benefits that come from that. So that’s the first thing.
The other thing I think about a lot, and you really only have to do it once is I have on my phone, I have pictures of my passports, my credit cards, my driver’s license.
In the event that I lose that stuff, I have it on my phone.
And if you lose your phone, obviously a lot of your stuff is in the cloud these days anyways, you can actually access that.
And so it’s very helpful traveling internationally, but I think just in general, once you have it, I know it’s there.
I’ve got my vaccine cards there. And it’s just sitting in a Google folder that if I ever have to get to anything of that importance, it’s sitting there for me. I mean, I think that’s just a simple tip.

Mike Putman:
[30:16] Great. But it’s a great tip. It’s a great tip. And I do the same thing as well.
Good advice for our listeners and our travelers.

John Diorio:
[30:24] I travel with reusable water bottles. These days, you try to avoid getting plastic as much as you can.
I love seeing what airports are doing now. I mean, some airports, I think San Francisco, and I think now Los Angeles, are banning plastic bottles in the future.
So when you get a bottle of water in San Francisco airport now, they’re only the aluminum ones if you’re buying it at at the airport.
You’re seeing a lot of the filtered refilling stations as well.
So I don’t go anywhere without my refillable water bottle.
I mean, I don’t want to pay $5 for a bottle of water. Why should you?

Mike Putman:
[30:59] That’s right. Well, good.

James Ferrara:
[31:02] Well, thank you. All right, John, it’s been great having you.
Really terrific to learn more about Virgin for everyone, but also just to spend a little time with you. So thank you. I know our listeners thank you.
We’ll see you on the next Virgin Cruise. Well, actually, speaking of Virgin Cruises, you and your company have been so generous to provide us with a seven-day cruise, which we are giving away to a lucky listener and his or her companion.
So it’s a cruise for two for next year, And we’ll be drawing for that from amongst our listeners towards the end of our season.
So they’ve got six or eight weeks to get registered for that, to encourage others, their friends and family, to listen to our podcast, and then to experience firsthand Avertain Voyages like you’ve just been telling us about.

Mike Putman:
[32:08] I’m signing up today, I am signing up today.

John Diorio:
[32:11] Yeah, please do, please do. James, Mike, thank you for having me.
This was a great pleasure and honor, thank you.

Mike Putman:
[32:17] Thank you so much.
So next up, we’d like to bring on Jessica Deverson, our travel guru, our deals guru, to share with our listeners some of the great deals that she has been working on this week. Jessica, take it away.

Jessica Deverson:
[32:33] Yeah, thanks guys for having me. I brought three new deals for this week.
So first off, we have Avalon Waterways.
This is a really great river cruise line.
And just what they’re really known for compared to other cruise line is their panoramic windows.
So gorgeous gorgeous view on all their ships and you know just think of the regular kind of river cruises the European and that sort of thing.
So really great cruise line rivers and right now they have a lovely lovely fly free event.
So they always have they’re always running some kind of air credit usually $5.99 which is you know a great deal round-trip Europe.
But right now they’re doing a fly free from select US cities on select 2024 Avalon Waterways Europe River Cruises so definitely reach out to your travel advisor regarding which cities you can catch those flights from and then also what what River Cruises those are what itineraries those flights are available on.

[33:48] Alright, so next up we have Royal Caribbean, a really great contemporary cruise line, great for families, great for multi-gen kind of travelers, different groups traveling together, because there’s kind of something for everyone.
So right now they’re running for September and into October they’re running their 30% off every guest plus kids under 12 sale free.
And then on top of all that, if you’re booking for 2024, you get an additional savings of up to $150.
So that’s their main offer. And then right now they’re off also running a special flash sale. And if you book now, any sailings from November.

[34:37] On November of this year forward, you’ll save another up to $500 instant savings.
So tons of deals, up to 650 savings, 30% off every guest, kid’s sale free, all combinable, plus they’re doing a $500 air credit from Europe and Alaska.
So whenever you book a Europe or Alaska trip, you get a $500 air credit towards those flights, which is a really great deal because as we know, flights are just kind of outrageously expensive right now.
And last but not least, just for fun, we’re about halfway to St.
Patrick’s Day and that was September 17th and it was about halfway to St. Patrick’s Day.
So, you know, if you’ve never been to Dublin or Ireland for St.
Patrick’s Day, maybe 2024 is the year to go for you. If you have been, I’m sure you want to go back.
So we’re halfway to the most celebrated day in Ireland. So there’s tons of different tours, lots of travel companies out there that’ll bring you to Ireland.
But when you’re booking a trip for an in-depth Ireland tour, you really want to look at travel companies that that is their main focus and they’ve been doing it for a long time and they’re experts in that kind of itinerary and in that area.
So one of those brands would be CIE, and CIE, they’re experts in Ireland travel, And they actually have seven different itineraries.

[36:04] At least seven, actually more than seven, but seven different itineraries that’ll hit Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day.
And they range anywhere from six days to 16, so you can kind of get like a little taste of Ireland on the sixth day or really go in depth and do the 16 days.
And all those trips are starting from only $1,245 per person.
So really great deal there. Fun to think about, you know, traveling through Ireland on St.
Patrick’s Day. And if you’re going to do it definitely go with an expert in Ireland and then also be sure to contact your travel advisor for any of these offers because you know they always have the inside information, they have the knowledge of these brands, they know all the offers that are going on so that’s yeah really great offers right now.
Tons of offers in the marketplace especially for year end and year closing so talk to your travel advisor if you’re looking to do that last-minute kind of travel, if you’re looking for holiday travel, or if you’re just starting to plan and think about 24 and 25.
So that’s it for me.

James Ferrara:
[37:16] Wow, that was great Jessica. More great deals. I know you put a lot of time into going through, I don’t know, must be a thousand deals that you receive all week long.
So thanks for sharing those with us. We would never have the time to do it all ourselves.
That’s one thing about being a travel customer, right, is that we don’t have the time to go through all the options that are out there. So really valuable insight from Jessica.

Mike Putman:
[37:47] Today, James and I wanted to call out a little bit of time to talk to you about really focusing on our ethos, what we call our manifesto of no tourist allowed.

James Ferrara:
[38:00] That’s right, Mike. You know, we’ve covered so much in our first season and now in this new season.
Each episode, we’ve dropped some advice about how to travel in a more authentic way, in in a more memorable way, in a more real way, right?
And even in a way that’s better for the planet, in some sense, so a more mindful way.
But we thought maybe we should bring it all together for everyone and start establishing our manifesto.
And so we’ll do a couple of the points today and each episode we’ll add to it.
And maybe our thoughtful listening audience here will send in some suggestions for us too, things that we have not thought about ourselves, but we have given this a lot of thought and a lot of work.

Mike Putman:
[38:51] Yeah, absolutely. And one concept that we’d like to cover is this idea of when you begin traveling and you don’t really know any better, or maybe it’s traveling is new to you, you’re kind of born a tourist.
So you’re a child, if you will, in your travel life cycle.
And, you know, tourists do these typical things. They go to tourist destinations, they eat in tourist restaurants often and do the tourist things.
And as you mature and as your travel, you know, becomes more frequent or you have more history in your travel, you become more of a traveler and you become more authentic and you experience more authentic things, whether it be dining, whether it be interacting with other cultures, and just being part of a real travel experience.

James Ferrara:
[39:53] So, understanding this arc of going from tourist to traveler.
And maybe beyond that even to something even more expert. Maybe you go and live in another country at the end of that.
That would be kind of cool. So one of the first points along with that is to find in yourself a genuine interest in another culture, right?

[40:23] Is to be open to learn, is to be not worried about difference, but to actually seek out difference, right, as a traveler.
Seek out those differences with your own culture and your own experience and your own customs.
And it comes in so many different ways. I mean, you know, I love art and architecture.
Someone else loves clothing and shopping, or someone else is thinking about customs or food, right?

[41:03] That’s always a big one, or education, maybe. There are so many layers to being open to another culture and another way of living and another experience.
And some of it’s even like where you stay. We talk about this a lot, Mike. course, there’s been terrible tragedy recently in Morocco.
But the last time I was in Morocco, actually, in Marrakesh, I stayed in a Riyadh, right, the traditional courtyard house, with actually a living area on the roof.
And that just made all the difference. I’ve also been to Marrakesh, and stayed out of four seasons.
And that it was a beautiful experience, but a very different experience of Marrakesh than when I stayed in that Riyadh.
Or maybe for someone it’s staying in a pensione in Italy or Spain or a hostel somewhere.
Some way to stay in a place where you’re actually closer to the people and closer to the culture.

Mike Putman:
[42:14] Yeah, you know, just like our guest John was mentioning earlier, there was a short excursion in Mykonos that he took where he actually went into someone’s home and prepared food with them, and I’m sure he was able to eat some of the food.
But just what a remarkable experience to be able able to go in and experience, experience to live to a degree, just like a local person lives.
And I think that’s all encompassing of what it is we’re trying to promote.

[42:46] And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s getting out of your safety zone and by no means are we saying be, be unsafe.
I’m not saying that, but do something a little bit different, you know, look out and try to experience something that you haven’t done before.
And that might require a little bit of research, a little bit of planning.
But there are lots of local organizations in the destinations that you go to where you might have a chance, for example, to go volunteer a day to do some work with a children’s program or help some people in some way.
And by doing so, you really get involved. And not only does that build a great experience for you and a rewarding experience, but you’re also helping other people, but you’re interacting with the culture.
You’re getting involved and you’re talking to people who don’t have to treat you like a king, like a lot of the big resorts, the employees have to treat you like your royalty almost.
But they can really speak to you one-on-one.

[43:54] You get a real understanding of what it’s like to live there, to be in their culture, maybe to break bread with them, but to really understand what it’s like to be different.

James Ferrara:
[44:06] And you can make these experiences happen by following a couple of ideas, guidelines in our manifesto.
And you just mentioned food in a couple of different ways, and I think that’s another big one, right, for all of us.
And And eating locally should be a value that you pursue when you travel.
You know, look for those busy places that are filled with local people.
That’s always a good sign, right?
That that’s a place that you want to eat. And if you’re looking at a menu and you don’t know what something is, to me, that’s a signal that I should try.
Yeah, my father always had a rule when I was a kid. And it was.
You had to try it. If you didn’t like it, you could order something else.
But you had to try it. That was the rule. So I kind of feel the same way when I’m traveling.

Mike Putman:
[45:06] My mother was exactly the same rule in my family as well.
But that reminds me of a trip I took to Cuba back 12, 13 years ago.
And, you know, Cuba is a unique experience for a lot of different reasons.
But this particular trip they had us going to the nicest places, you know, the nicest hotels and, and things are different in Cuba.
You know, that they don’t have access to a lot of, um, international foods and so forth.
But we went to these really nice, seemingly expensive places built for tourists and the food quality to be really candid is, was not good.
Um, We had one experience where we went to this, it was a chicken place on the side of the road, I’ll never forget, it was this huge open air chicken place.
Everybody around us was Cubans, we were the only non-Cubans there.
And it was the best meal that we had. And it was probably one-tenth the cost of the other food.
And that always kind of resonates with me as an example of eating local can be certainly better quality food.
And again, you’re interacting and getting to sit with people and have a conversation in a lot of circumstances that you might not have been able to otherwise.

James Ferrara:
[46:31] Yeah, and I agree. more likely to get fresh.
Food that way and it’s often affordable and You know really memorable and and opens the doors It’s one of the ways that opens the doors to interacting with local people, too So what’s kind of unspoken here is, you know, no McDonald’s, right?
No, no big American names not that I’m not putting anything down and you know, there’s a time and a place for everything but when you’re in Paris, you know don’t go to the big American names or the McDonald’s seek out these opportunities I’d say the only exception to that James is when you go to Estonia because I did go into a McDonald’s and in Estonia and And all of the people who worked there were supermodels.

Mike Putman:
[47:27] It was unbelievable. They were all these beautiful women and they were, you know, five foot ten, you know, beautiful.
And it was like you’re at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show and they were working at McDonald’s.

James Ferrara:
[47:41] So with that- Well, that’s a whole other value.

Mike Putman:
[47:43] That’s Estonia’s exception. But we hope these things bring some, you know, bring some clarity as to what our ethos is and really what it is that motivates us to provide this podcast for you guys.
We want to be able to share some of the great relationships that we have with a lot of the hosts that we have on.
We want to be able to educate you to a degree in the different types of travel there is, but we really want you to think about traveling in a way that’s sustainable, that’s authentic, means a lot, and it will last, these memories will last with you forever.
So that’s my hope. I’m happy to.

James Ferrara:
[48:30] Now, we’ve covered just a few of them, so come back with us each week.
We’re going to give you a few more guidelines in our manifesto.
By the end of the season, you’ll have the full picture.
And also, Mike, we should, at the bottom of the podcast now, we should remind everyone what we said at the top of the podcast, which is we’re giving away a free Virgin Voyages cruise for two.
And all our listeners have to do is sign up for the newsletter.
You can find the links in the pod description or go to
This week, you sign up for the newsletter, and that gets you multiple entries in the drawing.
Next week, we’re going to ask you to do something else, and that will allow you to get even more entries, and so on, each week.

Mike Putman:
[49:27] Absolutely. And I want to take just a second, too, James, just to thank some of the people behind the scenes that helped make this podcast be so successful.
And Nathaniel is our producer, he does a fantastic job. If you need any help producing a podcast, I think in the show notes you’ll have his company that he does a tremendous job orchestrating all of this.
And I’d also like to say thank you to Ruchika, who helps us with our social media and marketing of the podcast as well.
And there’s tons of other people, Jessica Deverson, who’s always on with us each week and lots of other folks behind the scenes. But thank you all.
You’ve kind of helped James and I dream of producing this podcast and getting our message out to a lot of people turn into a reality. So thank you very much for that.

James Ferrara:
[50:21] Thank you, everyone. and have a great week.

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