Category: Cruising

Online Shopping for Cruise Deals

When shopping for vacation packages or cruise and travel vacations, many people are reluctant to deal with online merchants or even offer their email address for price quotes. Let’s look at this last item.

You search online for a specific cruise or vacation. You find a link that looks interesting. Clicking on the link takes you to a merchant. You plug in the parameters of your preferred travel vacation. Then the unthinkable happens. You’re asked to provide your e-mail address! Oh no!

Relax. What’s the worst case scenario? You will perhaps receive an e-mail requesting a little more information regarding your preferred cruise or vacation. After having given the answers requested, you will receive a quotation for your cruise or travel vacation package. You may even receive specials and updates from the merchant to keep you up to date with special cruise and travel deals. Is this so bad? If you do receive subsequent special offers, you may just find your preferred vacation on sale! What’s wrong with that?

Now let’s deal with the first item. You have received your quote for the cruise or vacation of choice. Again, let’s look at the worst case scenario. You still do not want to deal online (although why, I can’t imagine). You can then go to your “brick and mortar” cruise or travel agency armed with information and a very tight budget (remember, you already have a quote for your cruise vacation). This places you in an excellent bargaining position. You have received a couple of quotes online, and know what the best deal online is. Now you can “work over” the “brick and mortar” cruise agent. If you don’t get a better or equal quotation for your cruise or vacation you still have the opportunity to purchase online. Not bad, eh?

Another definite advantage to at least pricing cruises and vacations online is that you get to do it on your time, in your own home or office without the sales pressure sometimes inflicted by face to face quotations. You also have all the time you need to browse through the myriad of cruise and vacation opportunities to get the travel getaway the best suits your needs and desires.

We have all heard of the nightmares that some vacationers have had with travel agents and agencies. There are “scam artists” in virtually every business. You are no more guaranteed that a travel agency from the paper – or even – the yellow pages – is any more reputable than an online merchant. Many frequent travelers deal online because they feel that they can get the best deals on cruises and vacations. And they can get them in “real time” directly from the cruiselines, vacation package companies, and airlines.

Carnival Ship Valor

Once on board things went well. The ship is less than one-year old and still seems new. Cabins were nice and I liked my stateroom with balcony.

For the entire trip the food was good. Same goes with the overall service. The crewmembers and staff were very accommodating.

Once we left Nassau the seas got rough. Matter of fact we had some seven foot seas. This ship really rocked and rolled in spite of its 900′ plus length. Wife and many others became deathly sea sick. Eating dinner was challenging. Kind of like eating during an earthquake that just won’t end.

If you want to avoid food lines at Rosie’s place go upstairs to the fish and chips place (noon only). Never a crowd as most passengers don’t know about the place.

We stayed on the 8th deck. Seemed to be a lot of kids running the passageways. Where are their parents? Alse some people like to party all night in the passageways. There are 23 bars on this ship and they chose the passageways.

Carnival has a great kids program. I don’t have kids but those who did really praised this setup.

If I was 21 again I would like Carnival just fine. Now in my dotage I like peace and quiet so I would try another line although wife says she is done cruising. Carnival does have great prices. The emabarkation procedure went about as well as could be expected. I was off the ship in about one-half hour and bags were in place with nothing lost or pilfered. If you don’t like lines try a smaller ship.

Introduction To Bermuda Cruises

Bermuda is around 120 miles north of the Caribbean Sea. It has a mild climate even during the winter months. Cruises to Bermuda are generally available between April and late October. There are certain cruises which keep on making trips until the end of December. However, they are relatively rare.

Your cruise ship could land in any one of the three ports at Bermuda, though it is most likely that you would stop in the port of Hamilton, as it has two shipping berths. It may happen that you visit more than one port on your Bermuda cruise trip.

The other port is known as St. George port. It is a historical port and attracts large numbers of tourists. Then there is the third port, at King’s Wharf. This port has museums, galleries and popular restaurants, which makes it a famous cultural hub. Bermuda cruises often have a large number of tourists who often make return visits to Bermuda. This indicates the island’s popularity.

However, as it is a small island, restrictions are in place concerning the maximum number of cruise liners that can land here. Check out the limit before you book a Bermuda cruise. The bookings can be done online or over the telephone. There are many cruise liners to choose from. Your choice of a cruise liner depends on your budget and the kind of vacation you are looking to take. There are luxury liners for those who want to splurge, and cheaper liners for those on a tighter budget.

Victoria Tall Ship Festival

Over the years, many tall ships from all over the world have visited Victoria. I believe that this is the first time the Tall Ship Festival has been held in Victoria. On Thursday June 23, 2005 approximately 30 Tall Ships started gathering near the entrances to Esquimalt Harbour and Victoria Harbour. I thought I would get an early start to avoid any anticipated crowds. My target was the Victoria Breakwater protecting the Inner Harbour. My grandaughter and I went about an hour and a half early to find that that thousands of people had the idea long before me. I managed to find a parking spot and worked my way out on to the breakwater.

There was an endless stream of people along the half-mile stretch of breakwater that extends into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the end was covered with Tall Ship fans. Soon the boats started sailing toward the breakwater.

The show continued until around 1:00 PM when the first ship entered the Victoria Inner Harbour. The Pacific Swift, a Victoria based Tall Ship was the first. The two largest ships, the Russian vessel Pallada and the Mexican vessel Cuauhtemoc had to wait until the evening high tides to enter because of their large draft.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour was teeming with interesting activity as Sea Planes tried to maintain their commercial schedules, Harbour Ferries scooted around, the Coho Ferry tried to leave on time, kayakers everywhere, all manner of pleasure craft coming and going – and all the while, more than 30 Tall Ships docking. The Victoria harbour master, who was orchestrating all this traffic must have had rock solid nerves.

I did not attend the first full day of the Festival, but heard it did have some big hick-ups. The large crowds that attended created huge line- ups everywhere. The organizers addressed the issues and Saturday, when Linda and I attended, went a lot better. The lines were long in the morning but shrunk in the afternoon. There was a lot to see and do. The biggest line-ups were to see the Pallada and the Cuauhtemoc.

We were standing in line to see the Cuauhtemoc when someone called out to say that they were looking for 30 people to visit the Zodiac. The Zodiac was the 3rd largest vessel and due to the low tide, it was a bit hidden. We walked down and were the first people to go on the Zodiac. It was a beautiful and built for the people who became wealthy in manufacturing. The Zodiac was designed to epitomize the speed and grace of the historic North American fishing schooners and was modeled on the Blue Nose (made famous on the Canadian dime).

The line for the Cuauhtemoc had shrunk some, so we joined it. It moved along reasonably well, but it did take an hour to get to the 2nd largest vessel in the Festival.

The Cuauhtemoc is a training tall ship for the Mexican Navy. It was built in Bilbao, Spain July 29, 1982.The Cuauhtemoc is known as the “Ambassador and Gentleman of the Seas”. Generations of officers have trained on it and it has sailed approximately 400,000 miles so far. It is huge, 90 meters in length, 12 meters wide, with 23 sails. It can move at 9 knots under sail and 17 knots under power.

The 23 sails are supported by a tremendous amount of rigging. The wire cables all are covered with soft material (made from frayed rope) to prevent the cables from tearing the sails in the wind. The sailors call it saggy wrinkles.

Someone asked me why you needed to board the vessels as you can see most of the ship from the street above. The features throughout the ship are truly amazing as demonstrated by the immaculately finished wood shown below. There are lots of displays, rigging, brass, wood and interesting equipment on the ship.

Florida Yacht Charter

The Cruising World magazine has recently rated the Gulf Coast of Florida the top yacht chartering destination in the whole of the US and for good reason. The immensely popular Fort Myers is a wonderful place to start your yacht charter in Florida. As relaxing as it is beautiful, Fort Myers offers the convenience of several top-notch marinas and is home to the City Yacht basin. This easy accessibility to Florida yacht charters marks Fort Meyers as a popular starting point. While there, be sure to take in the astonishing riverfront homes and peek at the estates of two of America’s shining stars – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

A yacht charter in Florida simply wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Naples. Touted as a hub for the wealthy, Naples has more than its fair share of five-star restaurants and other upscale amenities. Indeed, Naples is the place to be if you’re intent on treating yourself like a star. Luxurious day spas combined with the beautiful scenery and delectable dining may make Naples you’re favorite stop on your Florida yacht charter.

Another great stop you could chose to make while on your yacht charter in Florida would be St. Petersburg. This bustling city is a tourist’s dream come true, with a dazzling array of shopping areas and resorts, plus world class golf courses. While sailing in and around St. Petersburg, be sure to take note of the exotic wildlife. Bald eagles, manatees and osprey are just a few of the species that inhabit the region.

Indeed, the ease of chartering a yacht in Florida makes it perhaps the best choice for people who’ve never before experienced the joys of yachting. If you do chose to treat yourself to a yacht charter in Florida, you can rest assured that the relaxation and dreamlike memories you’ll gain will be with you for years to come.

Identify Perfect Cruise Agent

Identify and make a short list of travel professionals.

Do not limit yourself to agents from “brick and mortal” locations, large offices or corporate agencies. Many small office agencies and home based travel agents are very, very good cruise planners.

Contact each person on your list.

Prioritize your list based on your initial personal reactions to the person you met or talked with via telephone.

Use a sliding scale of one through ten, with ten as the high number.

For the moment, this is strictly subjective on your part, your “gut” reaction.

Evaluate each candidate.

LOOK FOR TWO TYPES OF INFORMATION

1). The first type of information you are looking for pertains to credentials, such as professional associations, cruise experience, licensing (if applicable), years as an agent, and so on.

2). The second, and more elusive, type of information pertains to intangible factors.
Your approach when determining intangible factors is to observe behavior and to pay careful attention to questions.

For example:

  • Did the agent greet you by standing up, smiling warmly, and perhaps offering to shake your hand?
  • If your evaluation took place via telephone, did you sense an upbeat voice and warm smile?
  • Did you receive the cruise agent’s undivided attention, from start to finish? If not, did the agent ask permission to answer another call or to perform another task?
  • After informing the agent of your desire to take a cruise, did s/he give you literature, other information or simply a sales pitch prior to asking you any profile questions?
  • Primarily, if the agent attempts to sell you any cruise product before asking you a single question (getting a profile), immediately say goodbye!
  • Among the first things a good cruise agent does is to provide you with his/her credentials and to obtain profile information on you.
  • An agent that asks questions and writes down the information is preferable to one that simply gives you a questionnaire.

In summary, a cruise agent’s true desire to assist you in every way possible will shine through their behavior, and their profile questions.

Based on his or her profile of you, your “perfect” cruise agent volunteers to do whatever s/he can do to make your planning as worry-free, stress-free and hassle-free as humanly possible.

Happy Sailing!

Yachts for the Rest

Yachts are like floating mansions. Normally a yacht will include several rooms, and luxury models can include many bedrooms, a family room, office, den, library and a theater room. Only the view from the windows lets you know you are on the ocean.

Even though yachts can be expensive to purchase, they are often available for rental. Yacht rental companies allow customers to use their yachts for an hour, day, week or even longer. This can be a great opportunity to have the yacht experience without breaking the bank. Many people rent a yacht for cruising on the ocean or lake for a few days as part of their vacation.

If you rent a larger yacht, you will normally have an experienced boat captain and perhaps a crew to pilot the ship for you. This can allow you and your family and friends to relax and enjoy the water and the yacht experience. These crewed yacht vacations allow you to live in comfort and style during your vacation. Normally you will have full amenities on the lot, and even a few fun extras like scuba diving equipment or kayaks to enjoy the ocean.

Picnic Along The River Nile

Rob dashes into the kitchen and packs my home made salads, (potato and Mediterranean), coleslaw and fruit salad along with wine, beer and soft drinks into a ‘cool box’. “We’ll be late”, he says, “hurry up”. “Rob, where’s Susie ?” “In the garden, I’ll give her a shout”. Susie, our daughter, is six and lives for these picnics. She’s already wearing her lifejacket as she rushes in from the garden, dancing about in anticipation.

Rob finally loads everything into the Jeep and locks up the house. He treats every outing with military precision. Once we’re in the jeep he produces what can only be described as a check list. When he’s satisfied we’re all present and correct he starts the engine and drives the short distance to the river where our friends are waiting.

Susie and I climb on the catamaran which has twin hulls and makes me feel safer. Rob and a friend jump into their sailing dingy and set sail immediately. The others decide which dingy they’ll take. Mike’s sailing the catamaran and waits for them so we can all leave together.

I’m not keen on sailing, particularly along the River Nile but our picnics are an institution. I’ll be happy when we reach the island in the middle of the river where we always picnic. We’re not too far away now, almost at Crocodile Island where Rob and his friends sometimes go shooting. Each time we pass it I shudder. Rob and his friend, Neil, are well ahead of us. They can’t wait to see if the pit which Jeff and Pete are digging is ready. They left at six this morning to prepare the pit and the fire because we roast a whole sheep which takes hours.

Susie decides to make her presence felt. She calls to Mike who’s sailing along steadily. “Uncle Mike, Uncle Mike, tip it over, tip it over !” My eyes lock with Mike’s. “Don’t you dare! She’s a little Madam. She knows I hate sailing”. I turn to Susie who’s giggling. “And you, Susie, ought to know better than to ask Uncle Mike to tilt the boat. Just because Daddy tips it over doesn’t mean Uncle Mike will. He’s got more sense”. She snuggles up to me. “Well, I’m sailing back with Daddy. It’s more fun”. She jumps up and I watch her scramble across the boat, my heart in my mouth, terrified she’ll fall into the river. She turns around, displaying a cheeky grin and waves to our friends in the other boats. A few more minutes and we’ll be there.

Mike expertly steers the catamaran to the island. All the women are wearing bikinis and smother themselves in sun cream. The men have already erected a couple of tents for those who want some shade. Rob walks over to us. “Come and have a look at the barbeque, Jan. The sheep’s already on the spit. Susie, that’s enough sun cream. We’re going to have a look at the barbeque. Hold my hand.” We trudge through the sand and watch Neil basting the sheep. He’s using the sheep’s tail attached to a stick which he dips in olive oil and lemon juice to baste it. Pete’s turning the spit so the sheep will cook evenly. We all have a go at turning the spit for a while. That way it means one person isn’t doing all the work. It’s only half past ten and we’ve the whole day ahead of us. As I take a quick dip in the river I try to forget about the crocodiles and the deadly bacteria which thrive in its waters.

The men are drinking beer while I swallow gallons of Coke. I must have the cleanest stomach in the Sudan. Susie plays with the other children while we adults stretch out and sunbathe, each of us sporting tans in various shades of mahogany!! Suddenly it’s mid afternoon and the sheep is ready. The men take their turn to carve while we produce the ‘goodies’ we’ve prepared at home. Each of us is starving and we devour the food in record time. We send the children to rest in the shade of the tents but they never stop chattering and giggling.

Unbelievably, it’s time to return. The sun sets early in the tropics so we never stay later than five p.m. Before long everything is packed up and we’re ready to leave. Susie stays behind with Rob while he makes sure the fire is out, fills the barbeque pit with sand and clears up any left over rubbish. I again climb on the catamaran, which Mike’s sailing, along with several of our friends. We arrive back first and they drop me off at home.

Make Your Cruise Truly Unique

After all, almost every cruiser who has been on two or more cruises has been to the Caribbean … and Russian cruises are no longer a novelty either …

In case you are looking for something that is off beaten path when it comes to taking cruises and have already been on several cruises, then here are a few tips to make your cruise unique …

  • New cruise destinations – The cruise industry is also faced with the same problem – offering cruises that are distinct every year – and they are exploring new destinations all the time. As a result, new cruise destinations may have been added since the time of your last cruise … you might want to check them out.
  • Get a great travel agent – Travel agents who are specialized in certain regions can have a wealth of knowledge about a place. Asking them for advise can make a lot of difference in your cruise experience.
  • Take a custom cruise – If you can afford it, or if you could cruise as a group – then there are few other options that can be as exciting as this one. Taking a custom cruise designed specifically with your tastes in mind could make your cruise truly unique. You get to decide where you go and when you go.

If traveling aboard a cruise ship with a couple of thousand other passengers is not what you relish doing, then you might want to give a thought to how you can make your cruise experience unique and fun. A bit of imagination and creative thinking may be what you need to design a great cruise experience yourself.

Find A Last Minute Cruise Deal

If you have been thinking of taking that first cruise ship holiday and have been told to book well in advance, then it may pay to check out the last minute cruise deals on offer and take your holiday a little sooner than you anticipated.

You see, there is a little phenomenon in the sales world that seems to apply across most areas and that is the last minute rush for bargains. The cruise line industry is no different and savvy bargain hunters have snapped up some amazing deals late in proceedings. But be warned, you will require some patience and a little nerve as you seek out the late specials.

Where To Look For Last Minute Deals

As companies attempt to fill their staterooms before their intended departure date and realize they aren’t going to fill them as anticipated then they may start to lower their prices. Bear in mind, last minute cruise deals can be booked up to 90 days in advance so if you have got some extra vacation time owing then it still gives you plenty of time to organize the time off from work.

Believe it or not, thousands have taken advantage of the last minute cruise deal rush over the years and in dollar terms, the aggregate savings made would run into the millions. Has this hurt the cruise lines? Well undoubtedly they would like to obtain “full tote odds” for their staterooms but let’s face it, selling them at a reduced price and having them occupied would be a lot more beneficial for them than to have empty during a cruise.

The trick is finding these late minute bargains. Don’t expect to see them advertised en masse in the local dailys or electronic press. After all, cruise lines need to protect their full-fare paying business. Travel agents are normally your first “port-of-call” when searching for a discount fare. But the internet has opened up a whole new world for the cruise enthusiast and there are some excellent sites specializing in deals. Do a search online for discount or last minute cruise deals and you’ll get wide selection of sites who have done the “hard yards” and “sniffed out” the bargains.

Cruise Specials Online

Another handy tip… some of these sites, particularly the higher ranked and more established ones offer a mailing service online where you can sign up to receive regular newsletters detailing cruise holiday bargains in a whole variety of categories.

It is also a good idea to check out the various cruise line company websites. More often than not, last minute cruise deals will be featured here. Take it a step further and give them a call. Let them know you have some spare vacation time coming up shortly, how much you have to spend and of course, if they have any discounted specials available during the next couple of months.

Performing a little due diligence will pay off for you in the long run. Last minute cruise deals in most cases are like “little nuggets of gold:” you have to search for them.

Navigation