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Category Archives: Travel

Taking Baby on Cruise Ship

The first thing we looked into was a vacation that combined multiple options for fun, with a relative ease of travel. In our case, we chose a cruise on a ship from Montreal, Canada to Boston, MA. This close in hugging the shore method of cruising allowed us the option to drive both ways. We had to rent two cars, complete with GPS, and car seats, but we were no longer bound by airline baggage rules, and that was important. We could now travel with enough baby clothes, toys, and feeding related gear to summit Everest if we wanted to.

The drive rather than fly also relieved us of the pitfalls of being the parent of the kid who screamed during an entire flight. We chose to avoid the potential hurdle of trying to sooth an unreasoning being, while fending off the evil stares of the poor people who might try to sleep near us.

We still had one more detail to work out; the boy needed a passport to travel to Canada. Amazingly the U.S. Post office made this task very easy. All we had to do was to make an appointment at our local Post Office and they did everything else. They took the pictures, helped us fill out the form, and even mailed the package off for us. A note of caution here, it takes about four weeks to get a passport, so give yourself enough time to accomplish this mission.

Our next concern was accommodations, and I have to give Holland America a lot of credit here. There are a limited amount of rooms on every ship that can be converted into baby rooms. Basically they move the couch and replace it with a bolt down crib. That meant that we didn’t have to carry a pack-and-play with us.

With travel, and accommodations locked down, our next concern was food for the little guy. What we learned is that the ship is equipped to handle this problem also. Upon request, they will supply a high-chair and baby food. We still chose to bring our own food, but that is because we are nervous overbearing parents and we have the ability to carry food with us.

Our next worry zone was the life rafts. I know it is unlikely that we would hit an iceberg or anything else that would sink the ship, but I am a new father and it is my job to worry. Again the cruise line came through with a baby sized life vest and an identification tag to make sure that we didn’t misplace our little bundle of joy.

Should Go on Cruise

Cruises Offer Hassle and Stress Free Vacation

When you go on a cruise, packing and unpacking only happens one. You no longer need to drive around, search for a hotel or even wonder where you will be taking your next meal. A cruising experience lessens your concerns, takes away all the stresses and more importantly, it gives you much more time to actually enjoy your vacation.

Cruises Bring You Peace and Serenity

Cruises bring you out there, where there are no smog, traffic, pollution, and stress. You do not have to be disturbed by the constant ringing of telephones, the alarm clocks that never seem to stop, beepers, and the boggling chattering of the fax machines. Cruises give you serenity and peace and all you need to do is relish the wonders of the waters, the sky, the sea and landscapes, things that are simple yet will certainly touch your mind, body, and soul deeply.

Cruises Make You Feel Pampered Like No Other

Breakfast delivered right on your bed, soaking in hot tub, lounging on the deck, afternoon tea, or maybe even caviar and champagne – all of these and more awaits you on a cruise. Things like these do not happen in your daily life but in cruise ships, they are very common and you might as well feel like you are a royalty with the kind of gracious and ever-present service they offer.

Cruises are Something New

One of the main reasons why cruising is fun is simply because this is something new. A lot of people usually get tired with the same, old and usual trips, which is why they want to try out a brand new vacation experience. Because most individuals have never experienced cruising yet, the urge to get that fresh dose of adventure that a cruise offers can really be a powerful motivation.

Cruising for Solo Travelers

Get a cabin for your own.

Some cruise packages may offer you to have a cabin mate but it’s better to get a solo room for yourself to feel total solitude. This way, you wouldn’t have to deal with snores not coming from you in the middle of the night; or you don’t have to actually care about your things just lying on the bed whenever you go out.

Do solo activities.

Cruise ships are complete with impressive facilities that would not make you feel sorry you’re alone. Use the recreational facilities. Go for a massage. Hit the gym. Go for a rock-climbing experience. Swim. Go to the library. There are many things which one can do to continue with his/her solo escapades; without getting uncomfortable with the scrutinizing looks from the other passengers.

Sit on a table-for-two when dining.

Many solo cruisers would insist on sitting on a table for four even without a company, for the hope of being asked if the seats are taken. Chances are this would not happen. So to avoid being asked (and a bit embarrassed) if you are alone, you should find a seat intended for two only. Unless, of course, that your main purpose is to actually meet people – and possible partners.

Meet other solo cruisers, but do not insist.

There is a great possibility that you are not the only one doing solo flight in the luxury ship. If you see other people who are traveling alone too, you can approach them in an unassuming manner and make friends. But while it’s a good thing to do, it may defy your or his/her purpose for traveling alone. So if you really want to meet other people, be sensitive on whether they want to meet you too or not.

Honeymoon Cruise Packages

Costa Cruise Lines

Costa Cruise Line is an Italian vessel which will provide honeymoon cruise packages in Italian style. The motto of Costa Cruise Lines is “Cruising Italian Style… that’s Amore” and will feature European decor with Mediterranean restaurants on board, being able to distinguish their fleet from the rest. The Costa Cruise Honeymoon & Anniversary packages will include fresh flowers, complimentary silver frame, sparkling Italian wine, an official portrait session, a special cocktail party and Costa robes to take home for all newlyweds or those who want to celebrate an anniversary.

Disney Cruise Lines

This cruise company will provide family-friendly features with live Disney musical performances, extensive kids’ activities and Character dining. Disney Cruise Lines, however, will also be dedicated to honeymoon vacations in fairy style. The company will provide romantic destinations such as the Mediterranean or Europe, as well as special cruise packages for all honeymooners. The Disney Romantic Escape at Sea cruise package will include a Romance Basket with chocolates, priority seating in Palo, a restaurant only for adults, two robes, and a silver frame with a voucher for a picture session.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has won Cruise Critic Editors’ Pick Award back in 2009 for Best Romance and Weddings at Sea. This cruise company provides innovative as well as personalized cruise experiences like the Anytime Dining program, where you will not be restricted only to a certain schedule for taking your dinner which other vessels have, and the famous “Movies Under the Stars” program, which will be featuring newly-released movies poolside on a big LED screen. Princess Cruises will provide both deluxe and basic honeymoon cruise packages. The Deluxe Honeymoon & Anniversary cruise package will include a French champagne breakfast in bed, passes to the “The Lotus Spa” for a facial and massage, Godiva chocolate, Princess Cruise robes, chocolate-dipped strawberries as well as an invitation to meet to ship’s Captain and visit the Captain’s Bridge.

Europe Cruise Tour

A maximum number of river cruises are a week long, but some of the exotic trips can sometimes extend up to ten to fourteen days. Mostly the journey starts from some of the fantastic cities in Europe and includes an overnight stay on board. But in case this facility is not provided you should preferably plan a pre or post-cruise stay. Generally, the daily shore excursions are included in the fares that you have already paid while booking. Some rare cruise companies of Europe offer extra tour options on paying extra bucks.

European cruise tariffs typically covers accommodations, some selective meals, children’s club activities, kid’s entertainment and even some theatrical performances. But you must also note that there are several activities and services that are charged extra like spa treatments, casino, cocktails and special drinks.

These packages also include the cost of transportation between ports and you can enjoy visits to a lot of European cities without paying any extra money. Some of these voyages cover two large regions like Western Europe and the Baltic or the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. Some cruises even combine more than three countries all together.

Among all these regular facts, there is a very important cautionary point that you all need to be extra careful about while going for cruising in Europe’s rivers. This is typically the weather from April to October, as heavy rains and spring flooding during this period makes the rivers swell and the locks become impassable. Many of the bridges along the routes are low and so the high waters prevent the boats to fit underneath them during this period. Similarly, the drought results in excessive low waters that don’t allow boats to move.

Dive in Cuban Culture

This place proudly holds and flaunts its cultural and traditional treasure, such as the buildings and the remains of colonial era. Even a few towns of Cuba have been honored by USNESCO and declared as the World Heritage Sites. These sites are as follows:

  • The old city of Trinidad (Sancti Spíritus)
  • The Castle of San Pedro de la Roca del Morro (Santiago de Cuba)
  • “Desembarco del Granma”- the national park
  • Fort Havana and the Habana Vieja’s historic city center
  • The remains of the La Gran Piedra’s French coffee plantations
  • The sugar factories near Trinidad (Sancti Spíritus)

Apart from all the cultural evidences, other towns of the Cuban are worth seeing. One can easily find beautiful buildings, churches, theatres, or old forts in almost every city of Cuba. The food factor of Cuban is yet another strong element of its culture and tradition. The current version of Cuban cuisine is strongly influenced by Andalucía and southern Spain. However it also contains strong hints of African plantations, traits of French, Italian and Chinese influence.

This assorted mix of cultures gave birth to lively flavors with distinctive spice and seasoning. Chicken, fish, pork, rice, sugar-cane, beans, yucca, pumpkin, coconut etc are some of the key ingredients of classic Cuban dishes that are still enjoyed and is a part of regular lifestyle.

Cuban Rum and Beer are distinctively famous and recognized all round the world. High quality beer, unique drinks, lip smacking Rum cocktails has made Cuba clearly visible on the map. One of the most popular brands of Cuba is Havana Club- a drink which is whole heartedly relished all over the nation. You can effortlessly find Cuban local sit-outs on the street, where one can chat, laugh and sweep the floor with your dancing skills.

Antarctica Cruises

The cost for a small ship Antarctic cruise varies based on trip length, the ship and cabin selection, and travel dates. Typically the cruise fare is more inclusive than on larger cruise ship, covering accommodations, meals and some beverages, guide services, landing fees, shore excursions, Zodiac expeditions, rubber boots for shore landings, and expert presentations.

What is not included?

While each cruise to Antarctica varies, generally the fees usually don’t cover airfare to or from the point of embarkation/disembarkation, some soft drinks and most alcoholic beverages, tips to your guides, laundry and other items of a personal nature, and optional adventure activities.

Where you will go and what you will see.

Where you go affects not only just pricing, but your experience as well. The majority of 10 to 14-day expedition cruises depart from Ushuaia, located at the southernmost tip of Argentina, crossing the famed Drake Passage by sea or occasionally by air (with ship embarkation in the Peninsula region). Cruises then explore the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, each made up of small islands, channels and inlets. Expect to see tabular icebergs, ice sheets and glaciers, 4 – 5 penguin species, seals and whales and sea birds. A few Antarctica cruises venture south to cross the Polar Circle and while these definitely provide travelers with unique bragging rights, they typically only add more days at sea onto the itineraries without much corresponding value in terms of increased wildlife sightings, Zodiac exploration or landings.

A few itineraries venture to the Weddell Sea which is found on the western side of the Peninsula. Some of these cruises are operated as a stand-alone itinerary, or more commonly in combination with an Antarctic Peninsula cruise. In this region, the tabular icebergs are larger, and so are the penguin colonies- and sometimes you even see emperor penguins. You can expect to see leopard seals in the water, Weddell seals lounging on ice floes, and hopefully encounter whales as you traverse the seas of the Antarctic convergence zone.

Longer 14 – 24 day Antarctic Peninsula cruises venture northeast to the wildlife-rich sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia and the Falklands where you find even more species of penguins – including massive colonies of king penguins. Huge elephant seals, albatross in their nests and sea lions are also highlights of this region along historical explorer sites.

For the past few years a new crop of tours in Antarctica have begun to operate which combine cruising the Peninsula or sub-Antarcitc regions via small ship with a full expedition staff, but which utilize flights on small BAE jets to transport travelers across the Drake Passage by air rather than sea. Given that the cruise portion of these expeditions are of comparable quality to most of the other Antarctic small ship expeditions, these really can be a great option for those who are very short on time or who fear a rough crossing the infamous Drake Passage. The drawbacks are firstly price- rates are much higher for these cruises, demand is high, and there is a risk of the very weather that causes the Drake to ‘shake’ as the saying goes will interrupt and cause delays in the flight schedule which then unexpectedly can cut into the time spent on the expedition.

When to travel?

The Antarctic travel season revolves around the Austral Summer, from early November through early March, when sea ice breaks up and snowfall and storms decrease. From April through October, it is next to impossible for any ships to break through the heavy pack and sea ice.

The most desirable time to visit starts the 2nd week of December through January when the weather is most reliably, and, importantly, most Antarctic penguins hatch– and during the accompanying holiday season and Argentina’s high travel season, demand can definitely outrun supply for popular trips. However, for those wanting to do a longer trip that explores the Falklands and South Georgia, the best time of year depends on what you are hoping to see and experience- January gets you better weather and potential access in the polar zones as well as an increase of whale migration in the Southern Ocean, but October and November bring the truly extraordinary mating and birthing season for the massive elephant seals found in and near South Georgia Island as well as the chance to see the magnificent waved albatross in their nests. Massive colonies of king penguins breed year-round, making South Georgia & The Falklands a great option during the entire season.

Discounts?

With Antarctica expeditions cruises, you’ll find discounts scarce when compared to the large cruise ship industry. Demand is high for Antarctica cruising and tours, and while some companies will discount to fill every berth, many of the higher quality ships do not offer last-minute discounts at all, but instead offer early booking incentives which often align with the lower air fares.

Last-minute travel.

If you can make arrangements quickly, and you love the thrill of the bargain hunt, then you’ll want to take advantage of the approaching ‘season’ or mid-season discounts. These can range from 10% up to 50% off full fares, but your choice of departure dates and cabin is limited. Airfare increases, eating into your cruise savings, and sometimes flights to Ushuaia can be full prior to your cruise, making it necessary for you to arrive days ahead of your cruise, adding several nights accommodation cost to your trip.

Life on board ship.

Depending on the type of small ship you choose, the level of accommodation, service, food and even adventure options ranges from ‘spartan’ to luxurious. Finding a ship that has what you want, means that you must look carefully at ship photos, deck plans and public areas (observation lounge, lecture media rooms etc) and adventure options. You’ll then want to balance that against the ships that have the itineraries that work for you in your timeframe.

Find Good Travel Agent Specializes in Cruises

You simply add the travel agents Skype name and ring them via video conference call. This beats sitting in a travel agents office waiting for them to become available. If you are unsure if they have a Skype account simply send them an email requesting their Skype name and you can be up and speaking with a cruiseagent in a matter of minutes.

CLIA affiliated agencies take advantages of many CLIA programs in order to better serve their cruising customers. CLIA agents receive up to the minute training from CLIA and the cruise line industry. Cruise Lines International Association agents will also have this as part of their affiliations listed on their site.

Cruise agents can serve as advisers, planners, and negotiators with the cruise line to help you get the best deal available. They also tend to purchase large amounts of cruises at certain times of the year and resell them to their customers at a low rate due to their bulk purchase. Groups looking to plan a vacation for a cruise can possibly save thousands when traveling with a cruise agent who has these berths already purchased at last year’s price. Therefore sometimes it pays the cruise customer to take the time to speak with a travel agent directly before booking through a search engine online. Also, many of the online travel sites will not take group bookings and you are required to speak with a cruise agent directly to make all the necessary arrangements without a lot of stress and wasted time. When you book in this fashion you also will on many occasions get certain perks that the travel agent is giving their customers who are traveling as part of a group. This could include onboard credits, bottle of wine, and other incentive items not always provided to cruise travelers booking online.

Dana Brown

Cruise Brothers Travel Agent

Corporate Office

100 Boyd Ave., E. Providence RI 02914

Travel Agent Office

105 Hilo W., Naples FL 34113

Some Cruising Lessons

You don’t have to gain weight while on a cruise. If you are a fussy eater or vegetarian, there are plenty of choices. Fresh fruit and salads are plentiful. Food is everywhere and available all the time. You can have free ice cream, pizza and/or a burger in the grill area or eat meals in onboard restaurants (a complementary meal is often given to entice you to come back and pay the next time). There is an all you can eat buffet, the Trough, which is the most dangerous place to spend time. It is best to take tiny portions of the foods that sound interesting and then go back for a little extra of your favorites. Watch out for breads and starches, white sauces and cream-filled desserts.

There’s always plenty to do on board ship. Hmm, yes, there are many activities and the staff does a great job trying to keep folks entertained. Activities are more important for long periods of time (Alaska) on board, unlike island hopping in Hawaii, when you are off the ship quite a bit. Activities consist of a comedian, a singer, a couple bands, movies, karaoke, trivia games, a casino and pricey bingo. There are also guest speakers talking about the area you are cruising, and health-oriented talks in the on-board spa. If you are traveling solo and find it difficult to meet people, these activities can help. However, if you have a specific interest, such as jazz, you might be better off trying a jazz cruise, where you are more likely to meet someone with common interests.

Getting away from all the people can be challenging. If you are a detective or a writer, it is best to avoid telling people. You might find the same person “bumping” into you everywhere you go. Even with a balcony, rooms can be claustrophobic no matter the weather. Everyone is out on deck when it is nice, and it can get loud with announcements and movies. If you don’t like the constant wind from the movement of the ship when outdoors, you may have more problems than most with claustrophobia.

Figure out the best time to go. Do you like it hot, rainy or cool? Do you want the beginning of season, when the excursion folks may be new to their jobs and kids are still in school? Or do you want end of season, when staff can’t wait for it all to be over? Do you want to see spring flowers, certain animals or fall colors? Figure out what you are most interested in seeing and then book the cruise accordingly.

You may have to spend more to fulfill the scale of your expectations. For example, on an Alaskan cruise, you may see whales and experience the thrill of icebergs falling from glaciers into the ocean (calving). However, without very strong binoculars or sharp reflexes, you won’t see either from the cruise ship. Seals resting on pieces of ice are just black or brown dots in the distance even with binoculars. Twenty-five story glaciers look minuscule, when the ship is five miles out to avoid the ice chunks from all the calving in the area. Whale spouts are confused with porpoise spouts, so many folks yelling out “whales” don’t even know what they are seeing and in the blink of an eye, whatever they were, are now gone. Thus, the scale of things is much smaller than your expectations, when compared to National Geographic photos. The only way to cure that is to go on a whale-watching excursion, which will cost you more.

Croatia Cruises

The itinerary of your Croatia gulet can allow you to visit different magnificent ports such as Zadar, Split, Sibenik, Trogir and Dubrovnik where you will experience coastal towns with rich natural beauty, culture and history. On your Croatia cruises you will come across different islands where your gulet can make stopovers thus allowing you to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, fishing, jet skiing, and so forth. As your gulet cruises over the pleasurable waters of the Adriatic you can enjoy sunbathing at the front deck or even sipping fine wine on the shaded cushion seats on the opposite deck as you sail past exotic lush green sceneries all around.

In comparison to the blue cruises in Turkey, Croatia gulet cruises allow you to spend every evening in a different island or town. There are therefore many possibilities that your itinerary can take including visiting the top ten most pleasant islands in Hvar plus visiting features such as the Krka Islands and areas such as Korcula, Mljet, Kornati Islands and Elafite Islands.

The prices of Croatia cruises have really come down over the past few years thanks to a strong competition base and you can now find great offers on private charters or cabin charters. To save much more just look out for last minute discounts where you can enjoy savings of up to 20% on different gulet cruises.

Planning for cruises in Croatia is best done with the help of online cruise companies. Choosing the right companies will make or break your expectations for the trip; you will find companies that take care of different itinerary needs and budgets quite differently. Always look for companies that carry a professional image and websites that carry plenty of info. This will in most cases guarantee you to find quality gulets with cabins that are well furnished and equipped with modern amenities for your convenience in addition to being staffed by friendly and professional crews.