Contrino Clients Visit Red Square.

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”Our very  happy Contrino Travel clients  visting the Red Square …..

Valarie Contrino and SI Career Coaches featured in SI Advance

Staten Island Career Coaches aid McKee High School students

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – ST. GEORGE – The Staten Island Career Coaches (SICC) have returned to McKee High School for a fourth consecutive year, to help students prepare a successful resume and ace a job interview.

The SICC is comprised of successful local business owners and professionals who volunteer to work with McKee upperclassmen on resume writing and developing job interview skills. During the three-week program, coaches mentor juniors and seniors; they identify their skills and strengths and develop strategies to market themselves to potential employers.

Read full article.

Valarie Contrino – Named in Top 25 Agents in the Country

Contrino Travel in Top 25 of Travel Agent Central’s Agents

 

 

Just announced: Valarie Contrino of Contrino Travel was named one of Travel Agent Central ‘s Top 25 Agents!

 

See Valarie’s profile in the list of the best of the best!

 

Valarie Contrino and SI Career Coaches featured in SI Advance

Staten Island Coaches offer lessons in how to get a job

 

ST. GEORGE — A community-based program that helps prepare McKee High School students for the job market is the focus of a film being screened to encourage business partnerships with the public schools.

The Staten Island Career Coaches (SICC) program is featured in the film “Imagine What We Can Do” prepared by PENCIL, the Manhattan-based non-profit that fosters private-sector pairing with the city’s public schools. The non-profit is perhaps best-known for its annual “Principal for a Day” program.

The film premiered earlier this summer before some 700 guests at a PENCIL gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Viewers are introduced to SICC member Valarie Contrino and Principal Sharon Henry, and the work they are doing to prepare students for their first jobs. McKee is one of three schools featured in the film.

Through the Career Coaches program, which completed its third year at McKee, volunteers from Staten Island businesses come to the school to mentor students, offering them practical tips on writing resumes, conducting themselves during a job interview, and other business skills. Students who have participated have successfully landed internships and part-time jobs.

“Being featured in this film was a big honor for McKee and Career Coaches,” said Ms. Contrino, president of Contrino Travel, Inc., New Springville. A greater honor, however, is seeing McKee students come out of the program and land jobs and internships, she said…

See the full article in the Staten Island Advance

August 2012 – In the Know with Contrino

In the Know with Contrino Travel:  August 2012

Tired of the same old, same old….what’s new to do?  Perhaps one of these should be on  your bucket list.

If you’re tired of the same old cruise or land package, why not consider experiencing something new and different?

Are you a lover of what’s called mainstream (NCL, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) cruising and have been to the Caribbean numerous times?  Why not try a repositioning cruise which is always offered at a reduced rate.  Of course, many of the repositioning cruises are for 12 or 14 days, so you’ll need to have an extended vacation in order to try one of these.  If repositioning cruises don’t work for you, why not try a river cruise?  They are offered both here in the US and/or abroad.  You can choose from a variety of cruises.  If you’re all about the glitzy shows or casinos, however, a river cruise is not for you.

What about train travel?  Amtrak Vacations offers a variety of itineraries.  You can either join an escorted tour or if that is not your bag, enjoy a structured itinerary that you do on your own.

How about a themed vacation?  Many are offered on cruises, the likes of Elvis, Jazz Festivals, Big Bands, Movies and more.  Not a fan of cruising, some are offered on land as well.

Are you a Disney enthusiast and have been to DisneyWorld numerous times?  Why not fly to the West coast and take in Disneyland Park.  While a smaller version of DisneyWorld, there is New Orleans Square not found @ World and California Adventure Park is right next door.  And there’s even a Downtown Disney too!  You can either stay at one of three Disney resorts right on site, or just adjacent in one of the “good neighbor” hotels where you can literally walk to these two parks.  Also in close proximity are Legoland and Knotts Berry Farms.   Or, if you’re done with touring their theme parks, why not try a Disney Adventure which offers guided tours for the family—there are numerous itineraries to choose from here too!  Want to experience Hawaii?  Disney’s Aulani in Ko’olina (Oahu) is a treat for the entire family as well.

Solo travelers; are you tired of paying double the price just so you can go it alone?  NCL Breakaway is coming to New York and will be sailing to Bermuda.  They have designed studios just for you.  The studios are inside cabins (with a window/door that face the corridor) which are on decks 10 and 11.  They have their own specialty coffee/liquor bar area so that you can meet like-minded travelers.   The inaugural sails May 12, 2013 and every week thereafter and Contrino Travel has inventory at a reduced rate as compared to calling NCL directly yourself.

Gutsy Women of Travel offer pre-arranged packages whereby you can go it alone and travel with like-minded women, safety in numbers.  For the single men who are reading this, sorry but unless you are part of the GLBT community, there is no such supplier for you gentlemen as yet!

Are you a Shades of Grey fan?  Who would you like to see play Christian Grey in the movie?  Contrino Travel has created a girls’ getaway package to Seattle for next April.  If you’re interested, call for more details.

For real exotic fun, why not consider a trip to Thailand where you can ride the elephants?  Cypress offers amazing beaches with packages that are not cost prohibitive.

Are you familiar with Oberammergau, the Passion Play that takes place every ten years in Germany (2010 was the last)?  You may want to consider traveling to the Piemonte region (of Italy) in 2015 where you will experience the incredible three-hour long Passion Play in the tiny village of Sordevolo, following the 200-year tradition of staging the play every 5 years. The dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Christ features hundreds of actors, huge stages, special effects, elaborate props, live animals, and an audience made up of the entire population (1,300) of Sordevolo.

Of course, for those sports enthusiasts there are packages already designed to make your stay more enjoyable to include game tickets or, in the case of Kentucky Derby, entrance to the races.  Missed out on going to the Olympics this year?  Why not plan ahead for the Winter Games of 2014?

Do you love to cook?  How about considering cooking classes in Italy or other parts of the world?  Wine aficionados might want to consider guided tours through those regions of the world where they can sample the regions’ famous wines.  Food for thought, no pun intended.

Rather than planning a big party to commemorate a special event in one’s life, more and more folks are planning multigenerational travel.  Why not consider renting a villa for the entire family?  Or traveling as a group to an international destination such as Turks and Caicos or a domestic location such as Hawaii?

What’s your passion?  Has it been an interest of yours to learn how to Scuba?  Or, is it history, photography, antiquing, extreme sports and more — guaranteed there is something for everyone.

SI Career Coaches and Valarie Contrino featured in SI Business Trends

Staten Island Career Coaches and Valarie were featured on page 17 in Staten Island Busines Trends.
 
Staten Island Career Coaches featured in PENCIL film
After three years coaching the students of McKee Career Tech-nical Educational High School in preparation for entrance to theworkforce, the Staten Island Ca-reer Coaches were featured in afilm by PENCIL, a New York-based non-profit organization that honors business experts and school leaders who have demon-strated their commitment to pub-lic schools. The SICC work with McKee upperclassmen on re-sume building and developing job interview skills. During  three-week program, the coachesmentor McKee’s juniors and sen-iors in identifying strengths and developing strategies to best com-municate their assets to potential employers. More than 16 SICC program participants received job place-ment through Workforce1, a serv-ice provided by the NYC Depart-ment of Small Business Services.Twenty students are currently participating in the Pencil Fel-lows internship program. In addi-tion, the school’s cosmetology stu-dents are now volunteering at New Vanderbilt Rehab, visiting residents bi-weekly through a connection made by one of the ca-reer coaches.Any professional interested in volunteering with the Career Coaches or providing internship, job shadowing or job opportuni-ties for students should contactValarie Contrino via e-mail at valarie@contrinotravel.com.
 

Contrino Travel Featured in SI Business Trends

Contrino Travel was featured in the June Issue Staten Island Business Trends.

VALARIE CONTRINO
Contrino Travel Inc.

Valarie Contrino of Contrino Travel Inc. based in Staten Island, has become a part of The Affluent Traveler Collection, an elite group of travel advisors who comprise one of the most knowledgeable networks of luxury travel specialists in the world today.Because they belong to The Affluent Traveler Collection, agents at Contrino Travel Inc. share The Affluent Traveler magazine with their clients. At more than 220pages, this semi-annual, coffee-table quality magazine features lavish photos and engaging articles that inspire readers to day-dream of spectacular adventures around the globe. Any of the travel experiences detailed in the magazine can be booked through Contrino Travel Inc.Contrino Travel Inc. was established in February 2005. Valarie Contrino is presently Adjunct Professor at the College of Staten Island teaching students How To Start A Home-Based Travel Agency, as well as other related travel course.

 Click here, to download a PDF of the article on Page 15-16.

Valarie honored in PENCIL film for works with HS Students

Check out the PENCIL video featuring SI Career Coach, Valarie Contrino and HS Principal, Sharon Henry

Cruising on the Romantic Rhine

Our home on the Rhine -- the Felicity!

Well I can provide a blow-by-blow, but don’t think you would want me to do that.  It’s always good to leave a little to one’s imagination!

We began our cruise in Basal, Switzerland on the Avalon Felicity.  She is a really pretty ship and we were told that there were 136 passengers that sailed her on April 15th, 2012.  Of course, we attended the mandatory safety exercise which proved to be different than your main stream cruise, in that the safety issues were somewhat different.  Immediately following, we were treated to a welcome cocktail and briefing by our cruise director, Karolien Cazemier. Once we were briefed we made our way to the well-appointed dining room to enjoy our embarkation dinner.  There is open seating, meaning you could seat with whomever and wherever you’d like each and every time you enter the dining room.  This fared well for us, as we were able to meet a lot of interesting and diversified folks.  We later came to know that there were Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Brits, a couple from South Africa and the remainder were from the good old USA!

Returning to our cabin that evening, we found turn down service, a nice sweet on our pillow and our “fireplace” was on (TV of course!).  There were a number of papers left on our beds, one of which was the Daily Newsletter for the following day’s activities, along with what I’ll call orientation sheets (city highlights and maps) for the different destinations we were to visit as well.

In the morning, several different options were offered for breakfast; one for the early riser, a full buffet breakfast and then one that took place for the late riser.  Lunch was always a buffet and while I’m not a fan of buffets, I have to admit that the chef’s and dining room staff offered a wealth of items to choose from.  Given that there were only 138 passengers (who didn’t always dine at the same time), the intimacy of the restaurant made it that much more appealing.

Dinner was always several courses and, while typically we were offered three different entree options, there was always a “standing” menu for those who didn’t like the options.

Did I forget to mention that in between there was always coffee and cake time and in the Club Room, there was always hot coffee, iced and hot tea, hot chocolate, juices and water, fruits and cookies always available too with a late snack available at 10:30 pm each evening.  On movie night, there was popcorn too!  Thus, we were never left hungry.  In addition, there was always some bubbly available to those during the full breakfast and during lunch, soft drinks (sodas) were available for free as well.  Dinner was a different story in that in addition to free soft drinks, beer and regional wines were offered each night.

When we arrived in each port, always included was a local guide who provided a tour of sf the city’s highlights.  Oftentimes, we were given a choice to have about a half hour to ourselves and then were escorted back to the ship or, if one preferred, they sometimes offered a later escort.  In those instances where the ship was staying for a longer period of time, you also had the option of staying in the city and told how you could make your own way back to the ship safely.

In addition to the local guided tours, there were optional tours (sometimes more than one offered for each destination) offered.  On our first day sailing, our first visit was Strasbourg which included a canal cruise and walking tour.  Strasbourg is located in France which was on the left side of the ship where we docked.  On the right bank of the river was Germany!  Thus, we had an option to tour the Alsace countryside or the Black Forrest in Germany.  We optied for the Black Forrest.

Our next day, Tuesday, we had a planned arrival in Mannheim which included a drive by motor coach to the castle and then we had time to explore on our own, with optional transfers provided in this destination.

Did I mention that every day there was Happy Hour?  The drinks were quite affordable and during happy hour they offered 2 for 1 pricing.  There was always musical entertainment provided by Emil daily, typically after dinner.

Our third day we arrived in Mainz (pronounced Minez) which included a walking tour which took us to the center of Mainz and included a visit to the Gutenberg Museum and Cathedral.  After our visit, we made our way back to the ship to set sail for Rudesheim and lunch.  Our tour in Rudesheim included Siegfried’s Mechnical Music Instruments (museum) and a Rudesheimer Coffee tasting at Rudesheimer Schloss.  After that we had time to explore on our own, which we did.  We took advantage of the Cable Car ride

Cable Car - Rudesheim

over Riesling wine fields which was a proverbial bargain at 6.50 Euros per ticket.  We opted to stay in town and enjoy some German desserts before walking back to our ship.  The shore feature (optional tour) that evening was a German dinner but we decided that we preferred to enjoy our gourmet dinner aboard the Felicity and then call it a day.

Day four brought us rolling down (even though we were traveling north!) through the Rhine Gorge with magnificent scenery as evidenced by the many photos we took from the Sky Deck of the Felicity.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind, but fortunate for us, the ship provided heavy blankets and of course the hot chocolate to help keep us warm!

We arrived in Coblenz which included another walking tour.  Just so you know, not all 136 people were in one group.  We typically broke out into four groups, one of which was for gentle walkers.  Our guide was extremely theatrical, so we very much loved this tour.  She also provided a wealth of information and made the tour a lot of fun.  We got to visit the first Eau du Cologne maker where I purchased some bottles to give as gifts at Christmas, thinking that it would be fun to give and also a practical gift!

Additionally on this day, we were treated with a performance by La Strada, a string trio performing extracts from pieces of Western European composers.  Thinking that I’d be bored with much classical music, my oh my La Strada proved me wrong!  They brought me to tears — literally!  Great performance…what a treat.

After dinner we were entertained by the Crew.  The brave crew members either sang or did skits and the finale was truly funny (don’t want to give the store away–you’ll just have to go on a river cruise and find out what they did!).

Even though Friday was not the last night of our cruise, the Farewell Captain’s Cocktail and Gala Dinner took place.  Reason being, we were going to be in Amsterdam the full day with a full day’s activities and the staff wanted us to have enough time to do our packing and prepare for our disembarkation the following morning.

We arrived in Amsterdam very early Saturday morning.  Immediately after breakfast we were treated to a canal cruise.  Again there were optional excursions; Van Gogh Museum; Volendam and Edam and/or the Red Light District.  Wanting to explore the city on our own after the cruise with the hopes of making a visit to the Haus of Anne Frank (while waiting on line, the heavens opened up and it poured on us!), we did opt to join the tour for the Red Light District which proved to be quite interesting.

All in all, our expectations were not only met, they were exceeded.  While we had our reservations about the lack of glitzy entertainment and/or that we’d be bored with some of the cruise highlights and/or fearful that we’d get stuck with a bunch of people for a week, once again we were blown away by the experience we had.  So much so, we can’t wait to book our next river cruise which likely will be Paris to the Normandy Beaches.  Any takers?

 

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