If you’ve ever looked for a gay cruise or travel, the name ALandCHUCK has to have come up in a search. With its more recent hosting of the Ru Paul’s Drag Race cruises Drag Stars at Sea, ALandCHUCK.travel seemed to be on top of their game.
On October 24th, last week, we were all shocked to hear that the show, the trips, the cruises, the travel was all over. Al Ferguson (the Al of ALandCHUCK) released on his Facebook page a lengthy statement as to what was going on with his business. He opened the post with:
AN OPEN LETTER ON WHY I AM NO LONGER GOING TO PROVIDE TRAVEL SERVICES
All of our hearts sunk. Not only are we losing a great travel option for the LGBT community, we are seeing a very respected member of the community bare his heart, his wounds, and his soul to the world wide web.
The last 4 years have been incredibly difficult. So many changes. Personal life. Family life. Physical life. Spiritual life. Business life. Combined with the issues that affect the travel industry today I have made the decision to lay off most of my employees. We had a meeting to talk about a restructure and “what’s next.” I think they understand. I think they understand my heart. I hope everyone that reads this will think I have done my best. I tried to do my best.
Before I outline the details of what is occurring, let me outline some of the things affecting me and what effects it is having on normal travel operations. This is what is occurring in my travel business:
Before we get into the reasons, it is not 1,000 percent clear as to if AL is done for good. We did reach out for comment almost a week ago, but have heard nothing back. Keeping some of his employees and done the travel services? Did he offer more than travel and is he just keeping some on to help with the transition?
Like the supposed death of gay bars, people blame the sex apss and argument done. Of course it is more than one factor. Al explains his leaving the travel business by citing:
Legendary Journeys has taken legal action against a group of former employees (and will expand the legal action). These former employees violated their employment agreement that protected proprietary information. Worse, they have caused more than $1.4 million dollars in cancellations and rebooking with other companies by discounting invoices (and other actions) that were booked at Legendary Journeys / ALandCHUCK.travel to get them to cancel and rebook with them. As you can imagine this has created a dramatic issue for the operation of my travel company.
Legendary Journeys / ALandCHUCK.travel has faced significant cancellations in our top travel program, Cuba. In early summer there was a reversal of the Presidents philosophy on travel to Cuba. The State Department has escalated this by announcing a travel advisory RECOMMENDING NO AMERICAN TRAVEL TO CUBA. While we have never experienced a single issue with Cuba, this has created fear for travelers that has caused significant cancellations. We have never been affected so harshly by the “politics” of our current government and this has dramatically affected current business.
HURRICANES & THE CARIBBEAN
Legendary Journeys has never experienced a season in the Caribbean like we are currently experiencing. The back to back hurricanes in Texas, Florida & The Caribbean have created a significant issue to our normal booking cycle. Dramatic sales are happening including $1 deposits with a major cruise line (as example). This has led to a dramatic slowdown of bookings and cancellations.
We continue to experience a significant chill for travel because of concerns over terrorism. Europe has been significantly affected by consumer confidence in travel as witnessed by incredibly low rates for transatlantic air to try to entice Americans to travel. This too had led to a dramatic slowdown of bookings and cancellations.
It’s not just ALandCHUCK.travel that seems to be going dark. I’ve signed up with ALandCHUCK travel to receive their newsletters and I of course get their parent company’s emails, Legendary Journeys. If you visit their site, they too seem to be dissolving.
For more than 20 years Legendary Journeys has been a travel institution in Florida and has the resources to protect our clients travel investment. This is very unique in the travel industry. But all of these issues has contributed to a very adverse travel environment for Legendary Journeys. And one we have currently not been able to recover from.
How I first heard that ALandCHUCK was to be no more was from close friends that had purchased travel on the company’s Cuba – Drag Stars at Sea trip at the beginning of December. They were not happy cruisers, but they understood what had happened.
DRAG STARS AT SEA CUBA
Dear Drag Stars At Sea Cuba Guest:
We regret to inform you that ALandCHUCK.travel / Legendary Journeys is forced to cancel the upcoming group on Drag Stars At Sea Cuba. We have complete details enclosed in this email.
There was anger, frustration, but also an understanding that business happens, business doesn’t happen, and Al has always been a great member of the community. Here is what Mr. Ferguson had to say about the trips his company has already planned.
I will operate most of the trips already planned. I will be cancelling some trips too. Fortunately, no guest will lose any money as the assets I have exceed any loses. I will communicate with guests directly (NOT HERE) and I remind you what social media is like. I wish to be completely honest and transparent. Everyone does not do the same. They probably on not on “my trips” and are really not my friend but will say terrible things. I guess ok, but it just adds to my sadness. I only wish to say I have the hard assets to cover this conclusion. And will. NO ONE can say otherwise. And if they do, you have to wonder what their goal really is?
I can hear Al saying this and it’s true. Social media brings out the bitches sometimes, well, most of the time. We’re sharing this news because we are appreciative of Al being so open about what has happened. And unfortunately, that’s what we have to do on social media these days, air out our dirty laundry before someone else tries to make you look like crap.
From a personal stand point I regret the interruption of any travel experience. Even with so many events that have occurred at a single time I accept complete and full responsibility of the current situation. Complete responsibility. I am sorry to have caused this situation for you. My long history in the travel business has been the opposite of this event that is forced on you. I have tried to do the right thing and acted noble way. Often, I have failed. And again, I am deeply sorry.
But, with that said, I wish to assure you, I have the resources to resolve any issue for you so you will not lose any monies paid for any events I decide to cancel. I will ensure, even with these dramatic events, that I am able to make good on the commitment.
Specific details on individual trips will be emailed to my guests, not here. I’m sure you understand.
I can be contacted at email@example.com My friends can private message me. Please be patient.
I hope you will be understanding and compassionate to the circumstances that are before me. Even in your disappointment, the only important step now is to make the current situation right for you. And I will.
After 30 years in the travel business…
Respectfully, Al Ferguson
Since October 24th, many of my friends have been tryin to figure out what to do. There have been a couple of emails sent from Legendary Journeys informing people what they may want to do:
Dear ALandCHUCK.travel Guest:
SOME RECOMMENDATIONS ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS FOR CREDIT CARD AUTHORIZATION AND UPDATES
You have received a letter that indicates that your trip from Legendary Journeys has been cancelled and that Legendary Journeys has closed. I send you this letter to continue to do my best for transparency and be as open as possible. We have received a significant number of questions about credit card charges and your legal rights. This email is designed to try to help with additional information.
The fastest response for immediate response over your payment is for you to contact your credit card provider. Whether you maintain the Credit Card that was used for charge or you are with a new account you may have protection. You should contact your Credit Card provider immediately to advise of your travel provider closure. Here are a few additional recommendations:
Our first letter is accurate and will be followed including an update on December 1 with expected completion on December 30. But these recommendations are going beyond that notice. We will continue to update you as we work the conclusion of this process.
Again, I wish to express my apologies and will do everything possible to satisfy your situation.
We feel the pain of the travelers, but as well as the employees of Legendary Journeys and ALandCHUCK travel. We hope everything works out for all parties involved. It may take until the end of December, but we hope all will be balanced.
I never met Chuck, so sorry Chuck for not mentioning you as much, but I don't know you as well. I've shared some great chats with Al and will remember some of those stories forever.
Thanks again Al for being honest and transparent. We could not imagine the pan of ending a 30+ year career in the travel industry.
How the OPEN LETTER appeared on Facebook.