Category: Cruising

Choosing the Right Cabin in Cruising

  • PRICE. Rooms on the top decks are pricy. Do you want this luxury or would you rather spend your money on other things? We wanted a comfortable cabin with enough space to move about and dry our laundry. When our travel agent called and said he could upgrade us to a more expensive cabin with a veranda we turned down the deal.
  • POSITION. Your travel agent will supply you with a plan of the ship. Study the plan carefully before you reserve a cabin. Our cabin was in the middle of the ship and on the same floor as the lifeboats, which made the lifeboat drill easy. The door to the promenade deck was just a few feet down the hall and we walked as often as we could.
  • CONVENIENCE. It’s convenient to have a cabin close to elevators and stairs. One of the things we liked best about our cabin was that it was close to the laundry. Our ship would do our laundry for $32 but we could do it ourselves for a $2.00 washing machine fee and $1.00 dryer fee. We would put a load in the washing machine, go back to our cabin and watch television for a while, and then dry our clothes. Passengers who were not close to the laundry had to wash their clothes at odd hours. Do not reserve a room across from the laundry because you will probably be disturbed.
  • VIEW. Some of the rooms on large ships have no windows at all. Do you want a cabin with a view? You may choose a lower deck cabin with a porthole or an upper deck cabin with a rectangular window. We chose a cabin with a window because we wanted natural light, wanted to see other ships, and wanted to see geographical changes. There were times, however, when we had to close our drapes because so many people were walking by.
  • TRAVEL COMPANIONS. If you are traveling with friends you probably want a cabin on the same deck and/or hallway. Your travel agent will be glad to arrange this for you. Our friends were just a few doors away and we often met them for lunch and activities. Being near each other helped us to coordinate our shore plans.

Learning to Sail

These governing bodies have designed a series of courses that enable people to obtain internationally recognised qualifications. The courses are rarely run by the national body itself. Private companies can apply to run the courses to national associations/federations and if approved they can then offer recognised courses to people wanting to learn to sail.

Courses are available both on the water (practical) and shore based (theory) for sailboats, power and motor boats, dinghies as well as supplementary courses such as sea survival and diesel engine maintenance. This article will look only at courses for sailing boats and the structure of courses within the United Kingdom.

The the number of people carried on board for the practical courses will vary but normally will not exceed an instructor and 5 students. I completed my own Day Skipper Practical with just one fellow student and the instructor. The higher the student/instructor ratio, the less one to one time everybody gets with the instructor but the cost per person is reduced. It is also preferable, I think, to have a mix of people taking different courses. 5 people taking the Coastal Skipper Practical Course aboard the same boat will have a reduced amount of time in their role as skipper.

Getting started – The first course we’ll look at is called Start Yachting, no previous experience is required and over two days participants will be shown how to steer a yacht, how to handle the sails, a little ropework and an insight into safety on board. The Competant Crew course is again aimed at complete beginners, no previous experience is required. This course last five days and in addition to steering and sail handling participants will be shown how to keep a lookout and row a dinghy.

The first shorebased course is called Day Skipper Theory. A little on the water experience is desirable. The course requires 40 hours and two written exams are taken at the conclusion. Primarily about the basics of navigation, seamanship and the weather, when completed you should be able to navigate a boat in familiar waters in daylight.

The Day Skipper Practical follows and can be completed in 5 days or over 3 weekends. This can be undertaken in either tidal or non-tidal waters and the certificate issued at completion recognizes the distinction. Experience is required, participants should have spent five days at sea with 4 hours night sailing and have logged 100 miles. The course covers boat handling, seamanship and navigation and pilotage. When finished you should be able to skipper a yacht in familiar waters in daylight.

The Watchleader Practical course, as the name suggests, teaches the responsibilitiesof a watchleader, navigation seamanship, safety and collision avoidance. Experience is required, participants should have have logged 100 miles and spent five days at sea with 4 hours night sailing. After the 5 day course you should be able to take the watch on a sail traing vessel.

The second shorebased course is called Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore Theory. This course is in part a preparation for the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore practical examinations. It continues on from the Day Skipper theory course looking again at navigation and meteorology and also considers safety, collision avoidance and passage planning. Some practical experience is necessary and you should understand theory of navigation to the level of the pervious Day Skipper theory course. The course takes 40 hours and concludes with three examination papers. When completed you should understand the theory of navigation required to undertake coastal and offshore passages.

The Coastal Skipper Practical Course follows the theory. Again this can be taken in tidal or non-tidal waters and again the certificate issued at completion recognizes the distinction. This course is aimed at skippers wishing to make coastal passages by both day and night. It assumes you will have spent 15 days at sea with 2 of them as skipper and have 8 night hours. You should have logged 300 miles. You should have practical skills equivalent to the Day Skipper Theory Course and theoretical navigation to Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore Theory. The course lasts 5 days and deals with boat handling, safety and emergency situations, pilotage by day and night and passage planning. You will be expected to plan and skipper a short passage.Upon completion you should be able to skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night.

You can follow this up with the Coastal Skipper Sailing Practical Examination. More experience is required, 30 days at sea with 2 days as skipper and 12 night hours and you should have logged 800 miles. You are also required to hold a First Aid Certificate and a VHF SRC Radio Operator’s Certificate. You should undertand theory to the level of the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster shorebased course. Course content includes boat handling and seamanship, collision avoidance, safety, passage making and navigation, meteorology and ability as skipper. Upon completion you should be capable of skippering a yacht on coastal passages by day and night and with the additional of a commercial endorsement you can skipper commercial vessels under 24 metres in length up to 20 miles from a safe haven. For one person you should expect the exam to take between 6 – 10 hours, if two people are taking the exam this will increase to between 8 -14 hours.

The next level is the Yachtmaster Offshore Sailing Practical Examination. Canditates are required to have spent 50 days at sea with 5 days as skipper you should have logged 2,500 miles. You should have made 5 passages in excess of 60 miles including 2 overnight and 2 as skipper. Again you are required to hold a First Aid Certificate and a VHF SRC Radio Operator’s Certificate. You should undertand theory to the level of the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster shorebased course. You will be expected to demonstrate your ability as the skipper of an offshore sailing yacht, including questions on collision avoidance, navigation, pilotage, meteorology and boat handling. After a sucsessful completion you should be able to skipper an offshore sailing yacht by day or night. For one person you should expect the exam to take between 8 – 12 hours, if two people are taking the exam this will increase to between 10 -18 hours.

Back on shore for the Yachtmaster Ocean Theory Course. This provides the knowledge required for those wishing to sail long distances. It covers ocean passage making and astro navigation including the use of a sextant. I’m sure the purists will disagree but personally I’m not convinced of the relevance of astro navigation and the sextant. I once crewed across the Atlantic for a couple who were making a circumnavigation. Seeing the sextant on board I asked the skipper if he could give me a demonstration of it’s use. He pointed me in the direction of the book that went with it saying he’d relied upon GPS for the last 12 years. “What happens if the GPS packs up?” I asked. “We use the spare one” he told me. The course lasts 40 hours and when completed you should understand how to plan and navigate on an ocean passage.

Finally the Yachtmaster Ocean Sailing Oral Examination on passage details and sun sight information. You must have successfully completed the Yachtmaster Offshore practical exam. You should have made a 600 mile passage as either mate or skipper and be able to take sun-run-sun sights and compass check by azumuth. You will receive questions on the techniques and problems of ocean passage making, including navigation, passage planning and ocean meteorology.The exam lasts a minimum of 1 and 1/2 hours and upon sucsessful completion you should be able to skipper a sailing yacht on an ocean passage.

Sinking Feeling

It is said that the happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day she buys a boat, and the day she sells it. Truer words were never spoken. It has also been said that owning a boat is like standing in a cold shower tearing up $20 bills. This is not true. You’re tearing up $100 bills, at least.

All my friends were shopping madly, all over town, buying clothes, shoes, furniture. I was at Home Depot melting my Visa card on stuff like stainless steel piano hinge. Wood plugs. Router bits. I do have every power tool known to God and Bob Vila, so Tim Allen, kiss my…keel. I was committed to this relationship. Committed? I was certifiable – I lived on my boat. And what a harsh house-mother she was, too.

As you read this, raise your arms so your hands are close together, right over your head. Keep them there for four hours. Every spring, I was forced to do this for days at a time. Holding a ten pound grinder. Carpal tunnel? I had the entire carpal subway system.

Every task I undertook involved a toxic chemical. My life became an EPA Superfund site. Most of the containers had a warning label that said – “A brain tumor in every can” – now that’s what I call a warning label!

The first summer I had the boat I was determined to practice safe boating – I wore a TyVek suit when I was painting her. Have you ever worn a TyVek suit? When it was 100 degrees? It’s like being locked in a sauna for hours at a time. I did lose 10 pounds that summer, though – in addition to about a billion brain cells from the paint fumes.

The entire relationship was co-dependent. The boat wanted to dissolve like an aspirin, and I had to prevent it from dissolving like an aspirin. Bit by bit, the boat was winning. The teak decks leaked no matter how many times I re-caulked them. The engine developed multiple personality disorder. The lines would fray even if they were coiled up in the rope locker. The fenders deflated. Then she tried to throw me overboard – the lifeline stanchions on the starboard side all broke at the same time.

This was a fight to the finish.

It was that old relationship conundrum – divorce? Never! Murder? Quite possibly. The boat did have reason to wish me harm – I HAD grounded her within fifteen minutes of our first voyage together. And there were the groundings in the Piankatank River, Boston Harbor, Rockaway Bay, and Sandy Hook.

She harbored a grudge.

And after everything I did for her, too.

I gave her a complete makeover from top to bottom – I rewired and painted her mast, I replaced her batteries and rewired the cabin, I completely redid her hull with the BEST isophthalic polyester-resin (say that three times fast) – I gave her all of my spare time and more than all of my spare cash. I even bought her jewelry – new rudder fittings made of silicon bronze that cost over $2,000. I’ve never spent that much on jewelry for myself!

We had wonderful adventures together – trips to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod. We sailed up the Hudson River and down the coast to Cape May.

But it was never enough. She always needed, demanded more.

The end finally came one day in November of 2000 – I’d given all I could give. I’d reached the end of my rope, and my checkbook.

I’d reached the second happiest day of my life – I sold her to a family that fell in love with her at first sight.

The poor slobs.

As I watched her sail away, I felt a twinge of sadness. Then I thought of my checkbook, which now had a positive balance. A VERY positive balance!

I’ve heard that my former significant other is still up to her old tricks – it took her new owners almost a month to get her from Long Island Sound to Gaylesville, Maryland. The engine’s multiple personality disorder kicked in, and the mainsail did its “look at me! I’m shredding!” trick – but her new owners are determined to keep her happy. I hope they have a fat checkbook – she’s a hungry old girl.

So I’m single again – but I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m eyeing charter boats in the Caribbean.

Marina of Sotogrande in Spain

On Sundays and Wednesdays there is a market which sells both local crafts and antiques. The marina was originally built in 1987 and has a total of 739 berths, of which 33 are 25-30 metres, and 8 are over 30 metres. These are often fully booked, particularly when one of the major sporting events is taking place such as the Volvo masters. Construction is well under way to increase this number to over 1000. There are a variety of restaurants, bars and shops to suit all tastes but many clients feel that the marina lacks atmosphere and can be rather soulless, particularly out of season. There are much prettier and more intimate marinas further up the coast such as Duquesa and Cabopina.

Mooring is available both alongside and stern to. The maximum length of yacht that can be accommodated is 70 metres and the maximum draught is 4.5 metres, with a maximum beam of 14 metres. Prices vary between 90 euros in high season to 50 euros in low season based on a 24m plus yacht for a 24 hour period. The nearest International airport is Gibraltar approx. 25km away, and the nearest heliport is 20km. Facilities available at the quayside include electricity, fresh water, fuel ( both petrol and diesel ) sewage removal, and direct line telephone. Parking is available but is extremely difficult in high season. Cable TV is also available. Workshops are available for both major and minor repairs.

Puerto SotograndeTorre de ControlSotogrande11310CadizSpain Tel: 0034 956 790000Fax: 0034 956 790109

Bargain Cruises Guide

You may consult a travel agent who has specialization in cruising. There are so many travel agents that are specializing in Caribbean, Alaska or Rhine etc. You’ve to just meet an experienced travel agent who has specialization in the area where you want to spend your vacations. Sometimes the agent has not any experience about that place so you should choose travel agent carefully.

Today Internet offers great information about bargain cruises. At present every cruise line has its own web site and they offers complete information about their cruise. You can book your seats in advance by getting information via Internet. You can also get discounts by reserving your seats in advance. Cruise lines updates their sites regularly to give latest information about cruise. You can also have a look of floor plan of ship and its cabins from their website that will help you in making right decision. You should search for unsold empty cabins for getting heavy discounts.

Generally last minute cruise bargains offers heavy discount because the cruise lines are trying to fill empty cabins at the departure time. So it is the best option to choose the cruise that is going to leave within next two weeks. Those people who can manage all the arrangements on a short notice can enjoy bargain cruises completely. The people who can’t travel on such short notice it is not good for them. Sometimes cruise lines offer discounts of 50% or more for the last minute reservations.

Repositioning cruise is also great option for bargain cruises. It will offer more time to enjoy ship’s facilities. You can also visit some odd ports where the cruise traffic is less. These cruises are also known as ‘repo cruises’. If you’re planning before several months it is the best for you. You should always keep in mind that the overall cost of repo cruises is more than ordinary cruises. They don’t require advertisements because they’ve standing reservation for every season. Cost of repo cruises is large because it offers amenities for three or more weeks.

Truly Relaxing Vacation on an Island Cruise

On an island cruise you will be able to relax in style. You will sail off in a luxurious ocean liner where the ship’s crew will attend to your every need. Imagine being on that ship, perhaps lying on a deck chair beside the swimming pool, getting a tan under the warm sun with a paperback in your hands and a drink at your side. And you won’t have work and family around to distract you from just relaxing and having a good read.

On the ship, you can feast on the excellent buffet and enjoy all kinds of entertainment on board. You could visit the shipboard casino and roll the dice or sit in a card game or two. You may not only have fun but even come away a big winner. At night, there are usually dinner shows performed by skilled singers, musicians, and comedians. You may even get to see a magician perform. And if that’s not for you, you can stroll around the ship, enjoying the ocean breeze and the beautiful view. It is an especially good way to take in a lovely sunset, or the sight of a full moon above the water.

And of course, the ship will take you to faraway places that you had only ever seen in books. Be it in Tahiti or Tawi-Tawi, you will get to experience island life first-hand, and have the chance to soak up the sun on lovely white sand beaches, or enjoy the adventure of snorkeling and skin diving in beautiful reefs and sea sanctuaries. You may even get to see whales or dolphins, and see many more of mother nature’s wonders.

In time, you will even forget about the stress of your life back home and sink into the relaxation of cruise living. You will be fully refreshed when you return and see your kids again. Not only will it be great to see the people you missed on your trip, but you will have something new you can share with them. Sometimes you really do need to get away from things and going an island cruise is a great way to do just that.

About Fashion For Cruises

How many times have you tried to shut and zip up an overflowing suitcase only to be denied at the port or airport because your luggage is at least 20 pounds overweight? Dressing up on cruise does not mean that you have to pack your whole wardrobe. Cruise fashion means smart and practical packing. Being stressed out because of too much luggage makes us look haggard even in our best evening dress. Before you pack, it is important to be familiar about your cruise’s itinerary. This gives you a general idea what clothes, accessories, and shoes to pack. Since the itinerary and dress code of the cruise is usually printed with the brochure, you should have no problem with this. If you like to be sure, call the travel agency that promotes the cruise. In general, cruises often require that you attend three kinds of activities: a formal social, smart casual affair, and a casual/sporty activity.

Since you won’t be spending the day locked up in your cabin, remember to pack good day wear aside from your stilettos. Day wear can mean anything from swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts, and jeans depending on wear you are going. Bahamas cruises certainly merit good swimsuits, sarongs, and other breezy wear. If you are thinking of a Scandinavian tour, hiking boots, jackets, hiking clothes, and gloves are must-haves. Bring sweatshirts, wraps, or lightweight windbreakers for sudden changes in temperatures.

Nighttime aboard on the ship usually involves socials that require dressing up. If your itinerary specifies several strictly formal events, just bring a formal dress or two and key pieces of jewelry. There are dresses that are designed to function in multiple ways: asymmetrical, tube, halter, or with straps. You could buy and pack one of these and save on luggage space. Your staple black dress is fine as long as you change the accessories that go with it. Wraps, shawls, earrings, and necklaces are good additions to your outfit. If you prefer pantsuits, bring a pair of versatile dress slacks and several tops to go with it. Cruise Diva editor Linda Coffman actually advises concentrating on the waist up. People hardly notice what pants or shoes you wear as long as they notice change on your tops and accessories.

Cruise Ship Activity

Most cruise lines have a children’s program, divided by age group. Games and activities are age appropriate. Children can participate as much as their parents want them to. These generally include games, physical activity like using a playground or pool, and arts and crafts. Sometimes there are dances and social activities for the teen group.

Some activities involve more physical activity than others. There are ships that have pools, water parks, ice skating rinks, climbing walls and areas for golf (lessons or miniature golf). Skeet shooting off the deck is another option.

Arts and crafts are usually available for all ages. Some ships even have art fairs!

The on board theatre will run movies, both general and adult oriented. Board games, bingo and keno are examples of more sedentary activities to engage in.

Some cruise lines feature lessons, all sorts. You can learn a foreign language, how to cook foreign fare or gourmet meals, how to play golf, poker or dance.

Spas provide massages, hair care, manicures and pedicures and other special types of treatments for the body. Think how good that would feel after dancing in the disco all night!

If you have a special interest or avocation there may be a cruise with it in mind. The sounds of the blues, or a family oriented cruise, or special cruises for singles.

Cruise Planning

The first think you need to find out is what children facilities are available on the cruise vessel that you are thinking of booking your holiday for. If you have infants you may need to ensure that there are cribs or that there is a menu that caters for infant food as well as that of small children.

Because a cruise trip is something for the parents to also also enjoy you ought to seek out a cruise that has proper baby sitting facilities. That way you can take the odds spa bath or other various relaxing treatment that adults can enjoy. Most cruises will have these facilities but always best to ensure that these are available and highlighted in your brochure so you know that is something which the cruise ship really cares about.

Each family bases cruised should have programs which cater both for the enjoyment of adult passengers and young. In most cases each may also over lap so that adults and children can enjoy these activities together if one wanted to. To this end most cruise ships have activities ranging from sports activities like water polo, to leisure ones like treasure hunts or video games and educational talks. Basically anything that can keep children occupied.

Cruise ships have different types of cabin depending on your budget. A standard cabin normally has 4 beds which is suitable for most average size family. If your family is larger you may need to consider booking another cabin. This is certainly something you need factor in when you budget for your holiday.

The one thing that you need to do when you book a cruise is making a medical appointment in case you have some ailment that may prevent you from making a trip over water. Also because often cruises stop over in countries where some diseases have a high risk of being contracted you will need to get proper immunization so that you do not end up having the worst holiday combating a nasty tropical disease etc.

Ultimately the best tip is to find a cruise ship that gives you the best experience for you and your family. It is also always best to sometime spend a little bit more and go for a recognised cruise liner than opting for a less expensive one that may turn out to give you an inferior vacation cruise experience. Looking at what kind of cruise ship you will travel on will go along way towards ensuring that is indeed the case.

Marinas of Gibraltar

There are many direct flights to Gibraltar, which is still a military base, with an airport to match! Arriving there is not for the feint hearted as cross winds can make it a very bumpy landing. The only runway extends out across the water, making it appear as though you are landing on the sea. In addition the main frontier road crosses the runway, with traffic held at level crossing gates whilst planes arrive and depart.

There are a total of three marinas which are Marina Bay,Queensway Quay, and Sheppards. The first two are the most well established. Marina Bay is situated on the West side of the Rock and has a draft of 4.5 metre and over 200 berths. All pontoons offer fresh water, power supply, telephone, fax, and satellite TV. There is also wireless internet available via a local provider. On the main pier there are the usual toilet facilities etc. For larger yachts there are 30 moorings which can accommodate 25-30m boats, and 15 for 30m plus yachts. Boats can be moored alongside and stern to. The maximum length of yacht is 75m with a max draught of 4.3m. There is no limit on the beam. As a rough guide to prices, in high season an 18-21m boat will cost 30 GBP per night, and 19 GBP in low season. The nearest airport is Gibraltar which is almost walking distance!!

Queensway Quay is the newest and most modern, and is located just North of the Rock, and currently has a new breakwater under construction. It can accommodate 209 vessels, and can take yachts up to 80m. There are 14 berths for yachts between 25 and 30 metres, and only 1 for yachts in excess of 30 metres, although we understand this will increase following development within the port. The maximum draught is 4.5metres and maximum beam 15metres. Each has fresh water, power, telephone, fax and Satellite TV. Boats can be tied up alongside and stern to. All points are connected to a pc in the harbour office which allow statements to be prepared promptly so that owners can get underway quickly. A local company is currently constructing waterside properties which will each have their own 20 metre mooring alongside.

Sheppards provides the only yacht repair yard in Gibraltar, run by H Sheppard and Co Ltd. The facility currently has 150 moorings and it is mostly used by locals. It can be a problem to find space if your stay is very short. Fees vary but for a 12m plus vessel are approximately £ 0.40 per metre in low season to £0.90 per metre in high season. The contact details are as follows : Marina Bay, Bayside Road, Gibraltar, Tel: +350 73300 or Fax +350 42656. Queensway Quay PO Box 19, Ragged Staff Wharf, Gibraltar, Tel: +350 44700 or Fax + 350 44699. Finally the contact details for Sheppards is Tel: +00350 75148 or Fax +00350 42535. The VHF channel is 71.

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